Why Some Flu Viruses May Be More Contagious Some Viruses Can Survive on the Fingertips Longer Than Others

Why Some Flu Viruses May Be More Contagious

Some Viruses Can Survive on the Fingertips Longer Than Others


Jan. 27, 2014 6:53 p.m. ET

Not all flu viruses are the same. Some are hardy survivors.

Some influenza viruses can survive and remain infectious on the fingertips for at least 30 minutes, long enough to transmit the flu to oneself or others, says a study in the January issue of Clinical Microbiology and Infection.

Flu is transmitted from person to person mainly by inhaling tiny virus particles that are released into the air when infected individuals cough and sneeze. Direct contact with contaminated fingers is considered an equally important method of transmission. Researchers sought to find out if the type or size of the flu virus affects its survival.

Experiments in Geneva involved two common influenza viruses: H3N2 and H1N1, the virus that triggered a global flu pandemic in 2009. Both viruses are included in the 2013-14 flu vaccine and are causing most of the world’s current flu illnesses, according to a recent World Health Organization bulletin.

Six volunteers with experience handling laboratory viruses were recruited. In separate experiments, droplets of H3N2 and H1N1 mixed with respiratory secretions from infected patients were deposited on three fingertips of each volunteer. The subjects’ fingers were undisturbed and kept at room temperature before testing for the presence of viral particles at various intervals. Particles were classed as “survived” if they were capable of propagating in laboratory cell cultures.

Both flu viruses were infectious on all 18 fingers after one minute. At three minutes, H3N2 was infectious on six fingers while H1N1 remained infectious on 15. At five minutes, H3N2 and H1N1 were infectious on five and eight fingers, respectively. H1N1 remained infectious on five fingers after 15 minutes compared with four fingers contaminated with the H3N2 virus. After 30 minutes, the number of infectious fingers dropped to two for each virus.

Larger droplets of H3N2 and H1N1 were found to contain a higher concentration of viral particles and remained infectious longer than smaller droplets with fewer particles. But smearing flu droplets over the fingertip reduced their infectiousness compared with untouched droplets, the study found.

H1N1 appeared to be hardier than H3N2, the researchers said.

The researchers noted that the study involved only a small number of subjects and viruses.



About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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