Papillomavirus is resistant to desiccation

J Infect Dis. 1997 Oct;176(4):1076-9. doi: 10.1086/516515.


There is strong epidemiologic evidence for sexual transmission of high-risk genital human papillomavirus (HPV) types. However, it is unclear if infection may also be transmitted indirectly via fomites. To assess this possibility, the in vitro infectivity after desiccation was compared for pseudotype HPV-16 virions, a model for high-risk type genital HPV, and bovine papillomavirus type 1 (BPV-1), a papillomavirus known to be transmitted via fomites. The 2 viruses had similar resistance to desiccation in cell extracts, retaining approximately 100%, 50%, and 30% of infectivity when dehydrated for 1, 3, and 7 days, respectively, at room temperature. Pseudotype HPV-16 and BPV in cell extracts were completely inactivated by autoclave treatment and susceptible to 70% ethanol but were resistant to EDTA or incubation at 56 degrees C for 1 h. The data suggest that further study of nonsexual spread of high-risk genital HPV via fomites is warranted.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bovine papillomavirus 1 / growth & development*
  • Bovine papillomavirus 1 / immunology
  • Bovine papillomavirus 1 / pathogenicity
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Desiccation*
  • Edetic Acid / pharmacology
  • Ethanol / pharmacology
  • Heating / adverse effects
  • Neutralization Tests
  • Papillomaviridae / growth & development*
  • Papillomaviridae / immunology
  • Papillomaviridae / pathogenicity
  • Papillomavirus Infections / transmission*
  • Time Factors
  • Tumor Virus Infections / transmission*


  • Ethanol
  • Edetic Acid