Comparison of spike and aerosol challenge tests for the recovery of viable influenza virus from non-woven fabrics

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To experimentally determine the survival kinetics of influenza virus on personal protective equipment (PPE) and to evaluate the risk of virus transfer from PPE, it is important to compare the effects on virus recovery of the method used to contaminate the PPE with virus and the type of eluent used to recover it.


Avian influenza virus (AIV) was applied as a liquid suspension (spike test) and as an aerosol to three types of non-woven fabrics [polypropylene (PP), polyester (PET), and polyamide (Nylon)] that are commonly used in the manufacture of PPE. This was followed by virus recovery using eight different eluents (phosphate-buffered saline, minimum essential medium, and 1·5% or 3·0% beef extract at pH 7, 8, or 9).


For spike tests, no statistically significant difference was found in virus recovery using any of the eluents tested. Hydrophobic surfaces (PP and PET) yielded higher spiked virus recovery than hydrophilic Nylon. From all materials, the virus recovery was much lower in aerosol challenge tests than in spike tests.


Significant differences were found in the recovery of viable AIV from non-woven fabrics between spike and aerosol challenge tests. The findings of this study demonstrate the need for realistic aerosol challenge tests rather than liquid spike tests in studies of virus survival on surfaces where airborne transmission of influenza virus may get involved.

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