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Survivability of Eurasian H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Viruses in Water Varies Between Strains

Justin Brown, David Stallknecht, Camille Lebarbenchon, David Swayne
Avian diseases 2014 v.58 no.3 pp. 453-457
Influenza A virus, aquatic habitat, avian influenza, pH, salinity, temperature, waterfowl
Aquatic habitats play a critical role in the transmission and maintenance of low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) viruses in wild waterfowl; however, the importance of these environments in the ecology of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses is unknown. In laboratory-based studies, LPAI viruses can remain infective for extended durations (months) in water, but the persistence is strongly dependent on water conditions (temperature, salinity, pH) and virus strain. Little is known about the stability of H5N1 HPAI viruses in water. With the use of an established laboratory model system, the persistence of 11 strains of H5N1 HPAI virus was measured in buffered distilled water (pH 7.2) at two temperatures (17 and 28 C) and three salinities (0, 15,000, and 30,000 ppm). There was extensive variation between the 11 H5N1 HPAI virus strains in the overall stability in water, with a range similar to that which has been reported for wild-bird–origin LPAI viruses. The H5N1 HPAI virus strains responded similarly to different water temperatures and salinities, with all viruses being most stable at colder temperatures and fresh to brackish salinities. These results indicate that the overall stability and response of H5N1 HPAI viruses in water is similar to LPAI viruses, and suggest there has been no increase or loss of environmental survivability in H5N1 HPAI viruses.