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How long do viruses survive in environment?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I'm fostering kitties and one is recovering from a mild URI (some sneezing and stuffy nose). He's been in a separate room that I would like to open up to other kitties.

Does anyone know how long the viruses (I know there's more than one) that cause URI's can live in the environment? What should I use to clean the place?

Also, how long after he stops showing symptoms will he still shed the virus? And since it's been fairly mild, will he shed fewer microbes than in a serious case?

post #2 of 4


Most URI pathogens survive in the environment no more than a few hours (FHV-1) to a few weeks (Bordetella) and are inactivated by routinely used disinfectants. Feline calicivirus is a notable exception, and may survive for up to a month or even longer in dried discharge. FCV is inactivated by household bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) diluted at 1:32, or by potassium peroxymonosulfate (Virkon® or Trifectant®).[6, 7] Calicivirus is NOT reliably inactivated by alcohols, and hand sanitizers commonly used in shelters may not be completely effective. Sanitizers containing 60-90% ethanol and propanol are more effective than other alcohols.[8] As noted above, the stress and fomite transmission associated with cleaning a typical box style single cat cage may outweigh the benefit of thorough disinfection. If possible, cages should be spot-cleaned while cats are in residence, and thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and dried between residents.
post #3 of 4
I know that Panleukopenia (Distemper) survives a LONG time outside the body. I think it is compared to Parvo in dogs which can survive years if never cleaned. FeLV does not last long outside the body. But just a URI won't last long without a host.
post #4 of 4
Originally Posted by Jen View Post
...FeLV does not last long outside the body...
That does not appear to be the case, at least according to these folks.

FeLV, HIV, and FIV all belong to the same virus family, retroviruses. It is reasonable to assume that the survivability of FeLV on a contaminated surface will be similar to that of HIV – days to weeks rather that minutes to hours. There is no scientific evidence to show that the simple process of drying of FeLV immediately renders it inactive or not infectious.
OK, so how long is long, anyway? Perhaps "long" is in the eye of the beholder...

However, survivability of "days to weeks" reinforces my healthy respect for viruses!
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