Call for Critical Appraisals: Humidity and Influenza

Call for Critical Appraisals: Humidity and Influenza


The Journal of Infectious Disease recently published the article, ‘Influenza Virus Infectivity Is Retained in Aerosols and Droplets Independent of Relative Humidity.’ The article advocates that the relative humidity has little effect on the viability of the influenza virus. is putting a Call for Critical Appraisals of the results as the findings conflict with historical evidence.

Main Article

On June 7, 2018, the Journal of Infectious Disease published an article by Kormuth et al, entitled ‘Influenza Virus Infectivity Is Retained in Aerosols and Droplets Independent of Relative Humidity’ (2018). In this potentially paradigm-shifting paper, the authors demonstrate that humidity has no significant effect on an influenza virus.

The authors of the paper developed an innovative testing chamber to control relative humidity and measured the viability of the virus after one hour exposure to varying levels of humidity. After correcting for standard loss of aerosols, the authors were able to demonstrate similar recovery of viruses titers at relatively humidity levels ranging from 23% to 98% (Kormuth et al, 2018). Previous papers have been able to demonstrate that absolute and relative humidity both have a significant impact on the propagation of the influenza virus, which has been associated with the increase in influenza cases during the winter months (Lowen et al, 2007, Noti et al, 2013, Shaman et al, 2010, Steel et al, 2011, Teller, 2007). In most papers, at relative humidity above 45%, there is a significant decrease in the infectivity of the viability or infectivity of the virus.

The authors provide a number of reasons for this result, but most importantly, they advocate for the use of additional cleaning procedures to minimize the spread of influenza. Regardless of the findings, the addition of terminal cleaning procedures utilized has been repeatedly shown to minimize the presence of bacteria and viruses on surfaces (Hunt and Anderson, 2016, Robertson, 2016, Stibich, 2016). The prevention measures may differ, but the control measures do not differ.


Given that this is the first instance of a paper demonstrating contrasting results, we are inviting experts from public health, health care, and from the cleaning industry to provide a critical review on this latest finding. At and The Infection Prevention Strategy, we advocate for the best evidence. Contrasting results, alternative interpretations of the results, or supporting evidence for this new result are welcome.


Please send your commentaries to [email protected]. Commentaries should cite peer-reviewed sources, and be a minimum of 250 words.

This article will be updated with links to submissions as they are received and published.

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June 13, 2018 – PART 2: Critical Appraisal: Humidity and Influenza
In Vitro Effect of Humidity on Influenza Is Not Universal 


Hunt B, Anderson WA. Reduction of Hospital Environmental Contamination Using Automatic UV Room Disinfection. 2016. 8; 1-5

Kormuth KA, Lin K, P, Tiwari AJ, Cox SS, Myerburg MM, Lakdawala SS, Marr LC (2018) Influenza Virus Infectivity Is Retained in Aerosols and Droplets Independent of Relative Humidity. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 2018; DOI: 10.1093/infdis/jiy221

Lowen AC, Mubareka S, Steel J, Palese P. Influenza virus transmission is dependent on relative humidity and temperature. PLoS pathogens. 2007 Oct 19;3(10):e151.

Noti JD, Blachere FM, McMillen CM, Lindsley WG, Kashon ML, Slaughter DR, Beezhold DH. High humidity leads to loss of infectious influenza virus from simulated coughs. PLoS One. 2013 Feb 27;8(2):e57485.

Robertson J. Electrostatic Technology for Surface Disinfection in Healthcare Facilities. 2016. 10; 1-5

Shaman J, Pitzer VE, Viboud C, Grenfell BT, Lipsitch M. Absolute humidity and the seasonal onset of influenza in the continental United States. PLoS biology. 2010 Feb 23;8(2):e1000316.

Steel J, Palese P, Lowen AC. Transmission of a 2009 pandemic influenza virus shows a sensitivity to temperature and humidity similar to that of an H3N2 seasonal strain. Journal of virology. 2011 Feb 1;85(3):1400-2.

Stibitch M. Reduction of Healthcare Associated Infections through the use of Pulsed Xenon Ultraviolet Disinfection. 2016. 5; 1-3

Tellier R. Review of aerosol transmission of influenza A virus. Emerging infectious diseases. 2006 Nov;12(11):1657.

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Michael Diamond
Co-founder of The Infection Prevention Strategy (TIPS) Michael Diamond is the co-founder of The Infection Prevention Strategy (TIPS), a non-profit organization that recently announced $1,000,000 in Scientific Impact in its first 24 months of operation. Michael is devoted to advancing information and science to address the myriad issues relating to infection prevention and global health. Mr. Diamond is driven by the firm belief that we should not have to wait years for promising technology, ideas and processes to be implemented and accepted. Michael has created a model of information sharing that makes the process of vetting new technologies, implementing successful programs and inspiring innovation, more efficient, more accessible, more global and more collaborative. Michael’s most notable achievement to date is the TIPS online journal,, a Pan-Access, worldwide collective that extends globally and touches locally. Michael leads teams around the world to develop trials and pilot studies to aid in the discovery of successful research-to-market technological advancements. His global team includes engagers and implementers. Currently represented in 38 countries, and well-established as the world’s largest engagement network, the TIPS motto is: Join. Contribute. Make A Difference.
Andrew Duong
With over 7 years of research experience, Andrew joins as a co-editor and contributing author. After obtaining his Bachelor of Science in Genetics, he earned a Master of Science in Microbiology from the Michael DeGroote Institute of Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University. As a previous Ontario Graduate Scholar, he has applied his accolades as a teaching assistant and has become a research associate in the department of surgery at Hamilton Health Sciences. Andrew has received numerous awards and scholarships including: the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, the William Henry Yates Travel Scholarship and the Institute of Infectious Disease Research Undergraduate Research Award. Andrew is an avid runner, and is said to dabble in the culinary arts, when he’s not spoiling his dog.