Home Hygiene & Health
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August 30th: Can floors be a means of spread of infection?

A new study shows how viruses on hospital floors are rapidly spread to the hands of patients and hand contact surfaces both inside and outside the room.  Although the risks in a household  setting are less because the floors are less likely to be contaminated with harmful organisms, it demonstrates that, for example, where someone at home, (or at school or on the office) has a norovirus infection and vomits onto the floor, the virus is easily transmitted to the hands of family members and the surfaces they touch.

In this study,  Koganti and colleagues used a nonpathogenic virus to look at the potential transfer from hospital floors onto hand contact surfaces and to hands of patients  For each patient, a 30×30 cm sq area of flooring was inoculated and floors were only cleaned when ‘visibly soiled’. On day 1, 40% of patients had evidence of contamination on their hands. On day two, the contamination rate rose to 62.5% before falling back to 43% on day three. 77% of high touch surfaces less than three feet from the bed were contaminated by day 3. By day two, the virus was found in 100% of adjacent rooms and by day 3 63% of samples on nursing stations were contaminated (keyboards etc).

Koganti, S., Alhmidi, H., Tomas, M. E., Cadnum, J. L., Jencson, A., & Donskey, C. J. (2016). Evaluation of Hospital Floors as a Potential Source of Pathogen Dissemination Using a Nonpathogenic Virus as a Surrogate Marker. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, FirstView, 1–4. Retrieved from href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/ice.2016.181