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Common cold may be just a fingertip away due to environmental contamination

PARSIPPANY, N.J., Sept. 29 -- A common cold can be just a fingertip away thanks to the high rate of viral contamination of environmental surfaces that a cold sufferer can leave behind, according to a study in hotel rooms by investigators from the University of Virginia (UVa) and Reckitt-Benckiser (LON: RB), the world's number one household cleaning company (excluding laundry). The study was presented today in an oral session at the annual Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC), in San Francisco, California.

During daily activities, adults infected with the cold virus easily transferred the virus to 35 percent of the surfaces touched, according to the study. Moreover, it was found that the virus was effortlessly and significantly transferred to an uninfected person by fingertips touching the contaminated surfaces, even 18 hours after initial contamination, according to Owen Hendley, M.D., lead study investigator and Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the UVa Health System.

After an overnight stay, adults infected with rhinovirus left behind virus on about a third of the objects and surfaces they touched in their daily activities. For example, the most frequently contaminated objects in 15 individually occupied hotel rooms were door handles (seven out of 14 rooms) and pens (six out of 14 rooms), followed by light switches, TV remote controls and faucets (each six out of 15 rooms), and telephones (five out of 15 rooms). Remarkably, the investigators noted that only one out of 10 rooms had a contaminated toilet handle.

Overall, rhinovirus contamination of the sampled surfaces (10 each in of 15 rooms) ranged from 80 percent contaminated test surfaces in three rooms to 30-50 percent in 7 rooms, to 10 percent in 3 rooms and none in two rooms. The average contamination rate was 35 percent.

Rates of acquiring rhinovirus from a contaminated surface during daily l
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Contact: Erin Osher
212-601-8352
Porter Novelli
29-Sep-2006


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