The H9N2 avian influenza virus (AIV) subtype has become endemic in Israel since its introduction in 2000. The disease has been economically damaging to the commercial poultry industry, in part because of the synergistic pathology of coinfection with other viral and/or bacterial pathogens. Avian influenza virus viability in the environment depends on the cumulative effects of chemical and physical factors, such as humidity, temperature, pH, salinity, and organic compounds, as well as differences in the virus itself. We sought to analyze the viability of AIV H9N2 strains at three temperatures (37, 20, and 4 C) and at 2 pHs (5.0 and 7.0). Our findings indicated that at 37 C AIV H9N2 isolate 1525 (subgroup IV) survived for a period of time 18 times shorter at 20 C, and 70 times shorter period at 4 C, as measured by a decrease in titer. In addition, the virus was sensitive to a lower pH (pH 5.0) with no detectable virus after 1 wk incubation at 20 C as compared to virus at pH 7.0, which was viable for at least 3 wk at that temperature. The temperature sensitivity of the virus corresponds to the occurrence of H9N2 outbreaks during the winter, and lower pH can greatly affect the viability of the virus.
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Vol. 54 • No. s1