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Abstract

Influenza virus is readily transmitted by aerosols and its inactivation in the environment could play a role in limiting the spread of influenza epidemics. Ultraviolet radiation in sunlight is the primary virucidal agent in the environment but the time that influenza virus remains infectious outside its infected host remains to be established. In this study, we calculated the expected inactivation of influenza A virus by solar ultraviolet radiation in several cities of the world during different times of the year. The inactivation rates reported here indicate that influenza A virions should remain infectious after release from the host for several days during the winter “flu season” in many temperate-zone cities, with continued risk for reaerosolization and human infection. The correlation between low and high solar virucidal radiation and high and low disease prevalence, respectively, suggest that inactivation of viruses in the environment by solar UV radiation plays a role in the seasonal occurrence of influenza pandemics.