Tracking the Spread of Virus in Offices

In a recent study, Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist from the University of Arizona, and his team used bacteriophage MS-2 (a microorganism which is similar to norovirus but harmless to humans), to simulate the spread of potential infectious diseases in an office environment.

 

The team inoculated a few common areas in the office and one unsuspecting employee. The team tracked the spread of the microbe by testing numerous surfaces and employees’ hands throughout the day.

 

The findings were shocking. It took only 2 hours for the microbe to spread to 40-60% of employees, with common employee areas like the break room having the heaviest concentration.

 

A second part of the study was then initiated; half of the employees were instructed to use disinfecting wipes containing quaternary ammonium compounds (quats) on commonly touched surfaces at least once daily and employ proper hand hygiene. To the researchers’ surprise, the virus was reduced by 80 to 99 percent with a 90 percent drop of viruses on hands or surfaces.

 

“The results show that viral contamination of [surfaces] in facilities occurs quickly, and that a simple intervention can greatly help to reduce exposure to viruses,” Dr. Gerba stated.