Stability of infectious influenza A viruses to treatment at low pH and heating


We have measured the infectivity of influenza A virus strains grown either in embryonated eggs or in chick embryo cells in culture after treatment at low pH. At pH values at which hemolysis occurs there was an irreversible loss of infectivity. The threshold pH, at which the infectivity was lost, depended on the hemagglutinin subtype of the virus strain. All H5 and H7 strains tested were extremely labile at low pH. In contrast, all H3 strains were relatively stable, independent of the species from which the viruses were isolated. With several H1 viruses the hemagglutination (HA) activity was irreversibly lost at intermediate pH values causing inactivation of infectivity. Strains with noncleaved hemagglutinins were much more stable. These observations might explain why duck influenza viruses can easily survive in lake water and wet faeces, and multiply in the intestinal tract, where trypsin is present. There are also significant differences in heat stability exhibited by influenza A strains. In contrast to pH stability this is not a specific trait of the hemagglutinin, since it can be influenced by reassortment. There is no correlation between the stability of infectivity at low pH and heat.

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Scholtissek, C. Stability of infectious influenza A viruses to treatment at low pH and heating. Archives of Virology 85, 1–11 (1985).

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  • Influenza
  • Influenza Virus
  • Virus Strain
  • Chick Embryo
  • Embryo Cell