Survival of influenza virus on hands and fomites in community and laboratory settings

Am J Infect Control. 2012 Sep;40(7):590-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2011.09.006. Epub 2012 Jan 20.


Background: Transmission dynamics modeling provides a practical method for virtual evaluation of the impact of public health interventions in response to prospective influenza pandemics and also may help determine the relative contribution of different modes of transmission to overall infection rates. Accurate estimates of longevity for all forms of viral particles are needed for such models to be useful.

Methods: We conducted a time course study to determine the viability and longevity of H1N1 virus on naturally contaminated hands and household surfaces of 20 individuals with laboratory-confirmed infection. Participants coughed or sneezed into their hands, which were sampled immediately and again after 5, 10, and 30 minutes. Samples also were obtained from household surfaces handled by the participants immediately after coughing/sneezing. Clinically obtained H1N1 isolates were used to assess the viability and longevity of the virus on various artificially inoculated common household surfaces and human hands in a controlled laboratory setting. Viral detection was achieved by culture and real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction.

Results: The results suggest that H1N1 does not survive long on naturally contaminated skin and fomites, and that secretions deposited on hands by coughing or sneezing have a concentration of <2.15 × 10 to 2.94 × 10 TCID(50)/mL.

Conclusions: These data can be used to estimate the relative contribution of direct and indirect contact transmission on overall infection rates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious
  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Female
  • Fomites / virology*
  • Hand / virology*
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype / isolation & purification*
  • Influenza, Human / transmission
  • Male
  • Microbial Viability*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Time Factors
  • Virus Cultivation
  • Young Adult