How to tackle rapidly spreading infections

By admin
06 October 2014

Think washing your hands regularly at work isn't necessary? You might want to think again. A new study has found that bacteria from an office door handle could spread to half the people in the building in just two hours.

he research was presented at an infectious disease meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. In the study, scientists planted a harmless bug that has similar properties to Norovirus, which causes extreme sickness and diarrhoea, on a door knob in an office.

After 120 minutes, 60 per cent of the workforce carried the tracer virus.

Every two hours the researchers sampled 60 to 100 surfaces capable of carrying infections - so think light switches, taps, computers, lift buttons, the kettle... These surfaces go by the name of formites.

"The results shown that viral contamination of fomites in facilities occurs quickly, and that a simple intervention can greatly help to reduce exposure to viruses," Dr Charles Gerba, who presented the findings, said, adding anti-bacterial wipes seemed to be the best solution.

"Using disinfecting wipes containing quaternary ammonium compounds (QUATS) registered by the Environmental Protection Agency as effective against viruses - like norovirus and flu - along with hand hygiene, reduced virus spread by 80 to 99 percent."

Contrary to popular belief, it's not the coughing and sneezing that's the biggest problem - it's touching these infected formites. If you count up the amount of objects you touch in a day it would amass to hundreds, maybe even thousands. From using the same phone as a sick colleague to clearing away their coffee cup, you're at risk of picking up their germs.

The key is to be sensible - wash your hands every time you head to the bathroom or kitchen and carry a hand sanitizer for in between. Regularly clean your desk with wipes, too. And if you're ill, work from home if possible or take a sick day - you don't want to wipe out half the office, after all!

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