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Viruses can spread through offices in just two hours30th of September 2014
Infections and viruses can be spread from a single office door handle to more than half the workforce in just two hours, new research has found.
And disinfectant wipes and regular hand washing are the best ways of preventing bugs from spreading further, say experts.
Researchers planted a harmless bug with similar properties to Norovirus on a doorknob at the beginning of a working day. They then sampled various surfaces in the office such as light switches, push buttons, coffee pots, taps and computers every two hours.
The study revealed that up to 60 per cent of the workers in the building had been contaminated with the bug within just two hours. The "virus" spread most quickly via lift buttons and telephones.
However, good hand hygiene practices coupled with the use of antibacterial wipes reduced the spread of the virus by between 80 and 99 per cent according to Dr Charles Gerba, who presented the research to the American Society for Microbiology.
"Viral contamination in facilities occurs quickly and a simple intervention can greatly help to reduce exposure to viruses,' said Gerba. 'Disinfecting wipes containing quaternary ammonium compounds along with hand hygiene is an effective defence against viruses such as norovirus and flu."
Previous research has revealed that touching contaminated objects is the fastest way to spread a bug.
"Most people think it's coughing and sneezing that spreads germs, but the number of objects you touch is incredible in this push-button generation," said Gerba. 'The key message is to stay at home when you're sick."