Viruses Spread around an office within hours, study shows

What do you do when you have a sick co-worker? Keep your distance? Well a study has shown that this may not be enough to avoid contact with their germs. The study shows that some viruses quickly spread throughout offices and other similar buildings, contaminating many surfaces in just hours.

Within the study, the researchers placed virus samples on one or two surfaces, such as a doorknob and a tabletop within an office building, hotel room and a health care facility. The researchers placed a virus called Bacteriophage MS-2, which ia harmless to people but similar dimensions to the human Norovirus. This allowed the researchers to trace how the Norovirus may spread across an office space.

Throughout the day, the researcher’s sampled 60-100 surfaces such as, light switches, bed rails, tabletops, coffee pot handles, sink tap handles, doorknobs and phone and computer equipment.

Within 4 hours 40-60% of sampled surfaces in the test areas were contaminated with the placed virus. The test was carried out by researcher Charles Gerba from the University of Arizona.

Gerba stated within the office environment “the first area contaminated was the coffee break room”.

In the second part of the study, cleaning staff and employees were given disinfecting wipes which were used to disinfect commonly touched surfaces about once a day. These disinfectants, along with proper hand hygiene, reduced the spread of the virus by up to 80-99% Gerba stated.

The results show that viral contamination of surfaces in facilities occurs quickly, and that professional cleaning schedules and procedures can help greatly to reduce exposure to viruses.


Source – Interscience Conference in Washington D.C.

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