Minimum Infective Dose of the Major Human Respiratory and Enteric Viruses Transmitted Through Food and the Environment

Viruses are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality around the world. Determining the minimum dose of virus particles that can initiate infection, termed the minimum infective dose (MID), is important for the development of risk assessment models in the fields of food and water treatment and the implementation of appropriate infection control strategies in healthcare settings. Both respiratory and enteric viruses can be shed at high titers from infected individuals even when the infection is asymptomatic. Presence of pre-existing antibodies has been shown to affect the infectious dose and to be protective against reinfection for many, but not all viruses. Most respiratory viruses appear to be as infective in humans as in tissue culture. Doses of <1 TCID50 of influenza virus, rhinovirus, and adenovirus were reported to infect 50% of the tested population. Similarly, low doses of the enteric viruses, norovirus, rotavirus, echovirus, poliovirus, and hepatitis A virus, caused infection in at least some of the volunteers tested. A number of factors may influence viruses’ infectivity in experimentally infected human volunteers. These include host and pathogen factors as well as the experimental methodology. As a result, the reported infective doses of human viruses have to be interpreted with caution.