Correlation Between the Interval of Influenza Virus Infectivity and Results of Diagnostic Assays in a Ferret Model

J Infect Dis. 2016 Feb 1;213(3):407-10. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiv331. Epub 2015 Jun 11.


Background: The relationship between influenza virus infectivity and virus shedding, based on different diagnostic methods, has not been defined.

Methods: Three donor ferrets infected with 2009 pandemic influenza A(H1N1) underwent daily quantitative culture, antigen-detection testing, and real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Eight contacts were sequentially cohoused with each of the donors for 24 hours during days 3-10 after inoculation.

Results: Transmission was observed until day 5 after inoculation, corresponding to high culture titers and positive results of antigen-detection tests. Real-time RT-PCR showed no relation to the cessation of transmission.

Conclusions: Antigen-detection testing and virus culture but not real-time RT-PCR identified the end of the infectious period.

Keywords: PCR; antigen detection; culture; infectious period; infectivity; influenza; transmission.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Viral
  • Ferrets
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype*
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / immunology
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / virology*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Virus Cultivation
  • Virus Shedding / physiology*


  • Antigens, Viral