Using the Systematic Review Methodology To Evaluate Factors That Influence the Persistence of Influenza Virus in Environmental Matrices

O'Connor, Annette
Wang, Chong
Irwin, Christa
Yoon, Kyoung-Jin
Hoff, Steven
Wang, Chong
Hoff, Steven
Zimmerman, Jeffrey
Denagamage, T.
O'Connor, Annette
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Understanding factors that influence persistence of influenza virus in an environment without host animals is critical to appropriate decision-making for issues such as quarantine downtimes, setback distances, and eradication programs in livestock production systems. This systematic review identifies literature describing persistence of influenza virus in environmental samples, i.e., air, water, soil, feces, and fomites. An electronic search of PubMed, CAB, AGRICOLA, Biosis, and Compendex was performed, and citation relevance was determined according to the aim of the review. Quality assessment of relevant studies was performed using criteria from experts in virology, disease ecology, and environmental science. A total of 9,760 abstracts were evaluated, and 40 appeared to report the persistence of influenza virus in environmental samples. Evaluation of full texts revealed that 19 of the 40 studies were suitable for review, as they described virus concentration measured at multiple sampling times, with viruses detectable at least twice. Seven studies reported persistence in air (six published before 1970), seven in water (five published after 1990), two in feces, and three on surfaces. All three fomite and five air studies addressed human influenza virus, and all water and feces studies pertained to avian influenza virus. Outcome measurements were transformed to half-lives, and resultant multivariate mixed linear regression models identified influenza virus surviving longer in water than in air. Temperature was a significant predictor of persistence over all matrices. Salinity and pH were significant predictors of persistence in water conditions. An assessment of the methodological quality review of the included studies revealed significant gaps in reporting critical aspects of study design.


This article is from Applied and Environmental Microbiology 77, no. 3 (February 2011): 1049–1060, doi:10.1128/AEM.02733-09.