October 13, 2010
Insights Into Environmental Conditions That Affect Highly Pathogenic Bird Flu Virus Survival
On the eve of the 2010-11 influenza flu season, scientists and engineers have identified the environmental conditions and surfaces that could enable a highly pathogenic (H5N1) bird flu virus to survive for prolonged periods of time "” at least two weeks and up to two months. Among them: The virus appears to thrive at cooler temperatures and low humidity. The study, which could lead to new strategies for preventing the flu virus from spreading, appears in ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.
Joseph Wood and colleagues note that the highly pathogenic (H5N1) avian influenza virus so far has been rare but dangerous in humans, with mortality rates of about 60 percent. Although the H5N1 virus may spread to humans by direct contact with infected birds or other virus-contaminated material, health experts are concerned that the virus could evolve to develop the ability to spread from person to person, and cause serious outbreaks. However, there is little information on how different environmental conditions and materials affect H5N1's survival.
On the Net: