Influenza A viruses have an envelope made of a lipid bilayer and two surface glycoproteins, the hemagglutinin and the neuraminidase. The structure of the virus is directly dependent on the genetic makeup of the viral genome except the glycosylation moieties and the composition of the lipid bilayer. They both depend on the host cell and are in direct contact with the environment, such as air or water. Virus survival is important for virus transmission from contaminated waters in the case of wild aquatic birds or from contaminated surface or air for humans.
The objective of this study was to check whether the origin species of the host cell has an influence on influenza A virus survival.
The persistence in water at 35°C of viruses grown on either mammalian cells or avian cells and belonging to two different subtypes H1N1 and H5N1 was compared.
Both H5N1 and H1N1 viruses remained infectious for periods of time as long as 19–25 days, respectively. However, within the same subtype, viruses grown on mammalian cells were more stable in water at 35°C than their counterparts grown on avian cells, even for viruses sharing the same genetic background.
This difference in virus stability outside the host is probably connected to the nature of the lipid bilayer taken from the cell or to the carbohydrate side chains of the virus surface glycoproteins. Moreover, the long-lasting survival time might have a critical role in the ecology of influenza viruses, especially for avian viruses.