Study Demonstrates High Stability of Hepatitis B Virus

Hepatitis B virus infectivity can remain stable for up to 9 months and demonstrate high resilience to antiseptics.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) can remain highly infectious for several weeks at room temperature and can even maintain stability in temperatures of 4 degrees Celsius over a 9-month period, according to a new study.

HBV is considered a major public health problem, with a significant number of outbreak cases reported. HBV can be transmitted through contact with body fluids, such as blood, from an infected individual, which can put hospitals and health care facilities at risk, according to the CDC.

In the study, which was published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, the researchers used an HBV infection system in human liver cells to study the stability of the virus. According to the researchers, previous studies have only been conducted in duck HBV models due to the lack of human research models, which may not produce results that are as accurate.

“The new HBV infection system enables researchers worldwide to finally conduct highly detailed studies of the human virus that had not been possible until quite recently,” study author Marc Windisch, from the Institute Pasteur Korea, said in a press release about the findings.

Using the new model, the researchers found that the stability of HBV barely decreases at room temperature after a few weeks and continues to remain highly stable at 4 degrees Celsius, or 39 degrees Fahrenheit, over 9 months. Additionally, they compared the efficacy of 2 alcohol-based World Health Organization-recommended hand sanitizers against different viruses, such as HBV. Among all tested viruses, HBV demonstrated the highest resilience against both disinfectants, according to the study.

“Various alcohols and off-the-shelf hand sanitizers deactivate the viruses,” study author Eike Steinmann, from the Department for Molecular and Medical Virology at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, said in the release. “If the disinfectants are diluted, however, their deactivating properties are reduced. Luckily, diluting disinfectants is not common practice.”

The researchers concluded that strict compliance with hygiene guidelines is essential to avoid and prevent HBV infections.

References

Than TT, Jo E, Todt D, et al. High environmental stability of hepatitis B virus and inactivation requirements for chemical biocides. The Journal of Infectious Diseases. 2018. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiy620

High stability of the hepatitis B virus [news release]. Ruhr-Universität Bochum’s website. http://news.rub.de/english/press-releases/2018-10-30-virology-high-stability-hepatitis-b-virus. Accessed October 30, 2018.