Publications (2)3.23 Total impact
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ABSTRACT: In a multi-center, prospective, observational study over two influenza seasons, we sought to quantify and correlate the amount of virus recovered from the nares of infected subjects with that recovered from their immediate environment in community and hospital settings. We recorded the symptoms of adults and children with A(H1N1)pdm09 infection, took nasal swabs, and sampled touched surfaces and room air. Forty-two infected subjects were followed up. The mean duration of virus shedding was 6.2 days by PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) and 4.2 days by culture. Surface swabs were collected from 39 settings; 16 (41%) subject locations were contaminated with virus. Overall, 33 of the 671 (4.9%) surface swabs were PCR positive for influenza, of which two (0.3%) yielded viable virus. On illness Day 3, subjects yielding positive surface samples had significantly higher nasal viral loads (geometric mean ratio 25.7; 95% CI 1.75, 376.0, p=0.021) and a positive correlation (r=0.47, p=0.006) was observed between subject nasal viral loads and viral loads recovered from the surfaces around them. Room air was sampled in the vicinity of 12 subjects, and PCR positive samples were obtained for five (42%) samples. Influenza virus shed by infected subjects did not detectably contaminate the vast majority of surfaces sampled. We question the relative importance of the indirect contact transmission of influenza via surfaces, though our data support the existence of super-spreaders via this route. The air sampling results add to the accumulating evidence that supports the potential for droplet nuclei (aerosol) transmission of influenza.
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ABSTRACT: The majority of influenza transmission occurs in homes, schools and workplaces, where many frequently touched communal items are situated. However the importance of transmission via fomites is unclear since few data exist on the survival of virus on commonly touched surfaces. We therefore measured the viability over time of two H1N1 influenza strains applied to a variety of materials commonly found in households and workplaces. Influenza A/PuertoRico/8/34 (PR8) or A/Cambridge/AHO4/2009 (pandemic H1N1) viruses were inoculated onto a wide range of surfaces used in home and work environments, then sampled at set times following incubation at stabilised temperature and humidity. Virus genome was measured by RT-PCR; plaque assay (for PR8) or fluorescent focus formation (for pandemic H1N1) was used to assess the survival of viable virus. The genome of either virus could be detected on most surfaces 24 h after application with relatively little drop in copy number, with the exception of unsealed wood surfaces. In contrast, virus viability dropped much more rapidly. Live virus was recovered from most surfaces tested four hours after application and from some non-porous materials after nine hours, but had fallen below the level of detection from all surfaces at 24 h. We conclude that influenza A transmission via fomites is possible but unlikely to occur for long periods after surface contamination (unless re-inoculation occurs). In situations involving a high probability of influenza transmission, our data suggest a hierarchy of priorities for surface decontamination in the multi-surface environments of home and hospitals.