International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene

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March 8th: Impact of a hand and high touch surface hygiene intervention on virus spread in an office building

A new study quantifies the impact of an office wellness intervention (OWI) to reduce viral contamination in the workplace.  It included use of a spray disinfectant on high-touch surfaces, and providing workers with alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel and hand sanitizing wipes along with user instructions. Viral transmission was monitored by applying an MS2 phage tracer to a door handle and the hand of a single volunteer participant. At the same time, a placebo inoculum was applied to the hands of four additional volunteers. The purpose was to evaluate the concentration of viruses on workers&; hands and office surfaces before and after the OWI. Results showed that the OWI significantly reduced viable phage concentrations per surface area on participants&; hands, shared fomites, and personal fomites  with an 85.4% average reduction. Surfaces identified as most contaminated were the refrigerator, drawer handles and sink faucets in the break room, along with pushbar on the main exit of the building, and the soap dispensers in the women&;s restroom. A comparison of contamination in different locations within the office showed that the break room and women&;s restrooms were the sites with the highest tracer counts.

The study was carried out to provide the necessary data for use in quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) models aimed at defining the relationship between surface contamination, pathogen exposure and the probability of disease

This latest data from Kurgat et al from University of Arizona is a further example of how QMRA can be used to develop hygiene procedures which are both effective and sustainable as outlined in the recent IFH white paper: Containing the burden of infectious diseases is everyone’s responsibility: a call for an integrated strategy for developing and promoting hygiene behaviour change in home and everyday life. 

Kurgat EK, Sexton JD, Garavito F, Reynolds A, Contreras RD, Gerba CP, Leslie RA, Edmonds-Wilson SL, Reynolds KA. Impact of a hygiene intervention on virus spread in an office building. International journal of hygiene and environmental health. 2019 Jan 15.DOI: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2019.01.001