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Viruses in the Workplace Linger for Hours
- Updated: September 9, 2014
As reported at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, officials advised that within hours, viruses found on door handles and other surfaces can spread to more than 50% of people in the workplace. This information comes from a study conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona.
Recently Charles Gerba, a top microbiologist, along with several colleagues, planted an innocuous virus within the workplace. The virus was placed on a tabletop or doorknob in a conference room, office, and healthcare facility where associated bacteria were not currently present. Workers associated with the companies involved were fully aware and consented.
The outcome of the study showed that up to 60% of employees had come into contact with the virus within just a two to four hour period. In addition to the selected locations, the virus had been spread by workers to other areas to include phones, computers, a break room, and even on bed rails within the healthcare facility.
The specific virus used does not infect people, just bacteria but what researchers found was that after touching the surfaces where the virus was planted, it stuck to different surfaces and human skin, much like norovirus.
The participants in the study were provided ammonia or alcohol-based wipes by Gerba to disinfect surfaces and hands. Although less than 50% used them, researchers discovered they were enough to reduce the virus by as much as 80%. This study proved three things to Gerba and his colleagues.
First, they confirmed how easily viruses spread and second, how long they live in the workplace. However, they also found that to reduce risk of viruses that cause colds and flus, it is imperative for disinfectant wipes of this type to be used.