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Resistance of Infuenza Viruses in
Environmental Reservoirs and Systems

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   The EU RIVERS project officially started on the 1st of February 2007 and finished on the 31st of July 2010 - This project is currently carried out as RIVERSbis with the finacial support of BNP-Paribas and its Foundation.
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   European Commission - Research: FP6

RIVERS was funded by the 6th framework programme of the European Commission under the reference SSP –5–B-INFLUENZA 044405

RIVERSbis is the continuation of RIVERS with the support of BNP-Paribas and its Foundation


The surge of the global avian influenza epizootic caused by the genotype Z high pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) has posed numerous questions, in particular to risk managers and policy makers. Scientific knowledge is thin on many aspects of the ecology and environmental properties of HPAIVs, in particular H5N1. Virus survival, a key element in control strategies, is an illustration of this paucity of knowledge. Data from the literature on AIV survival are rather limited, often very old and sometimes not confirmed from one study to another or even contradictory. The results obtained with various sub-types of influenza A viruses cannot be extrapolated to the current A(H5N1) viruses before a careful consideration. Further, few information is provided regarding the survival of IVs in the air and surfaces. Meantime, no standardised protocols exist to detect AIVs in waters, in the air or in/on solid matrices. Ideally, the virus detection technique to be used should be sensitive, quantitative, rapid and applicable in routine before or after a standardised sampling method, including or not concentration.

Under this project, 9 institutions directly involved in AIV, of which 3 from Asian countries, have joined forces in order to investigate the prevention and control of influenza outbreaks in animal population at present and at time of restocking. More specific objectives are: 1/ to understand the basis of virus survival from a virological viewpoint; 2/ to understand the impact of physical and chemical elements on virus survival; 3/ to evaluate the role of environmental reservoirs; 4/ to propose standardised protocols for the concentration and detection of AIVs in waters, including waste waters, and in different matrices including food; 5/ to provide a database together with analytical tools to allow the generation of evidence based guidelines for the prevention and control of influenza outbreaks in animal and human populations, especially at times of restocking.


The overall objective of our STREP project is the prevention and control of avian influenza A(H5N1) in animal population with the following objectives :

  • gather data on the survival of avian influenza viruses (AIV), in natural environments
  • generate scientific knowledge about the survival of avian influenza viruses in experimental settings
  • provide figures about the effect of various treatments either chemical (eg disinfectants) or physical (eg UV light) on influenza virus survival
  • provide figures about the effect of various food processing on influenza virus survival
  • Elaborate models about the survival of AIV in natural environments to demonstrate, in connection with projects relevant to tasks 3 and 4 of the SSP-5B-Influenza call, their perpetuation in nature both in biological and environmental reservoirs.



The RIVERS project addresses AI infection, epidemiology and control in situations that mimic the way the virus move in natural environment and in controlled environment such as the farm yard. Virus survival will be examined through genetic and phenotypic characteristics of the virus in relation to the chemical and physical nature of those parameters that can affect virus structure that are likely to exist in the environment in which the virus is expected to be found. The concentration of the virus in particular locations will be a concern of this investigation. Coupled with these studies, further efforts will be expended in rapid detection of the virus and in the production of standard protocols for such diagnosis methods. International guidelines for the control and prevention (through virus inactivation and disinfection for example) of outbreaks in domestic birds but also in humans will thus benefit from the information generated by the project.



The RIVERS project has officially started on the 1st of February 2007 and finished on the 31st of July 2010


- DRAFT Scientific report for the 3rd period (M37-M42) now available

- New paper accepted for publication: Development and Validation of a Concentration 1 Method for the Detection of Influenza A Viruses from Large Volumes of Surface - Nathalie Deboosere, Srey Viseth Horm, Anthony Pinon, Jessica Gachet, Chloé Coldefy , Philippe Buchy and Michèle Vialette

-- Oral presentation at the
Annual Young Researchers in Life Science conference, jointly organized by Ile de France research institutions, Paris, France - May 9-11, 2011

- Poster presented at the International Meeting on Emerging Diseases and Surveillance (IMED 2011) Vienna, Austria - February 4-7, 2011


- Our kick-off meeting was held in Paris at the Institute Pasteur on the 12 and 13th of February 2007

-Our final meeting took place in Paris at Insitut Psteur on the 28th of July 2010

 - 1st Telephone Conference Call held on the 2nd July 2007