Contaminated mud and soil may play roles as reservoirs and sources of transmission for avian influenza A virus. However, the persistence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus in soil or mud has not been well documented, and specific methods of H5N1 virus detection in mud and soil specimens have not been described. The aim of this work was to evaluate the capacities of five different commercial kits and one elution-concentration technique to extract nucleic acids from H5N1 virus and to detect infectious viral particles in experimentally infected mud specimens. The viral RNA detection thresholds for the QIAamp kit, Trizol LS and the MagNA Pure LC kit were 5 × 10(2)RNA copies per gram of mud. Trizol reagent and the RNA PowerSoil™ kit were unsuccessful in recovering any viral RNA from mud. When the elution-concentration technique was performed prior to nucleic acid extraction, the performance of the MagNA Pure kit increased to a level that allowed the detection of H5N1 nucleic acids in naturally contaminated environmental samples that had previously tested negative after direct extraction using commercial kits. The levels of detection of infectious virus after inoculation into embryonated eggs were higher in concentrates than in eluates.
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