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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Strain-related variation in the persistence of influenza A virus in three types of water: distilled water, filtered surface water, and intact surface water

Shamus P Keeler12*, Camille Lebarbenchon13 and David E Stallknecht1

Author Affiliations

1 Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, Department of Population Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA

2 Department of Infectious Diseases, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA

3 Current address: Université de la Réunion, Avenue René Cassin, BP 7151, 97715, Saint-Denis cedex, La Réunion, France

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Virology Journal 2013, 10:13  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-10-13

Published: 7 January 2013

Abstract

Background

The persistence of influenza A (IA) virus in aquatic habitats has been demonstrated to be a determinant for virus transmission dynamics in wild duck populations. In this study, we investigated virus strain-related variation in persistence in water for nine wild duck isolated IA viruses of three subtypes (H3N8, H4N6, and H8N4).

Results

We experimentally estimated the loss of infectivity over time in three different types of water: distilled, filtered surface water, and intact surface water. All viruses persisted longest in distilled water followed by filtered surface water with markedly reduced durations of persistence observed in the intact surface water. Strain-related variations were observed in distilled and filtered surface water but limited variation was observed in the intact surface water.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that the role of surface water for long-term (between years) maintenance of AI viruses in the environment may be limited, and suggest that the physico-chemical characteristics of water, as well as microorganisms, may be of strong importance. Results also indicate that the extent of strain-related variation observed in distilled water may overestimate persistence abilities for IA viruses in the wild and supports the need to develop experiments that account for these effects to assess subtype, genotype, as well as spatial and temporal variation in the persistence of IA viruses in aquatic habitats.