Dishing the dirt on office germs

Encouraging employees to wash their hands at work may seem over the top, but a new study shows that infections can spread throughout the workforce in very little time.

Want to keep your workers healthy? Old fashioned soap and water may be the key.

A new study has found that germs take just two hours to spread from an office door handle to half the employees, the Daily Mail reported.

The study, which was presented at an infection disease meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, involved a harmless bug with properties similar to norovirus being planted on an office door handle at the start of a work day.

Researchers tested 60 to 100 surfaces like light switches, computers, push buttons and sink taps every two hours to monitor the spread of the virus and found that between 40% and 60% of the surfaces were contaminated within two to four hours.

Dr Charles Gerba, who presented the research, was reported as saying that simple intervention could greatly help to reduce workers’ exposure to viruses.

“Using disinfecting wipes containing quaternary ammonium compounds 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%.”

In previous research, Gerba discovered that touching objects was the fastest way to spread a virus and a 2010 study found that more than half an office was infected with some kind of virus after touching buttons in a lift, on keyboards and telephones, the Mail reported.

“Most people think it’s coughing and sneezing that spreads germs, but the number of objects you touch is incredible, especially in this push-button generation. We push more buttons than any other generation in history. The key message is to stay at home when you’re sick,” said Gerba.

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