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Field-based method for assessing duration of infectivity for influenza A viruses in the environment

January 7, 2020

Understanding influenza A virus (IAV) persistence in wetlands is limited by a paucity of field studies relating to the maintenance of infectivity over time. The duration of IAV infectivity in water has been assessed under variable laboratory conditions, but results are difficult to translate to more complex field conditions. We tested a field-based method to assess the viability of IAVs in an Alaska wetland during fall and winter which incorporated physical and chemical properties of the waterbody in which samples were held. Filtered pond water was inoculated with avian fecal samples collected from the environment, aliquoted into a series of duplicate sealed vials and submerged back in the wetland for up to 132 days (October 2018–March 2019). Sample aliquots were sequentially recovered and tested for IAVs by rRT-PCR and virus isolation. One sample remained rRT-PCR positive for the duration of the study and virus isolation positive for 118 days. The surrounding water temperature was 1°–6 °C with near neutral pH (6.6–7.3) for the duration of the study. This proof of concept study demonstrates a protocol for testing the persistence of infectious IAV naturally shed from waterfowl under ambient environmental conditions.