A virus causes several different diseases in humans, animals and plants. A human virus is smaller than bacteria and comes in many shapes—but their general structure consists of a nucleic acid core (DNA/RNA) that is surrounded by a protein coat called a capsid. An outer structure of lipids, proteins and polysaccharides—called the envelope—can also be present. A virus is not free-living. They do not have the metabolic ability to synthesize new protein coats/nucleic acids, so they must use the metabolic machinery of living cells to replicate and multiply—unlike bacteria.
Many viruses—like COVID-19 are transmitted through direct and indirect contact from the simplest surfaces that have been contaminated. Now, what is the survival rate of a potentially life-threatening virus once it has spread to a surface? Depending on the virus and many other factors, it can survive for seconds up to weeks!
Rhinovirus (the common cold) can live for 1 hour to 7 days on a surface and the Norovirus (the flu bug) can survive from 8 hours to 7 days on a surface.
With the pandemic of COVID-19 front and centre, we are learning more and more each day about the many threats and health concerns of this virus. We want to know what we should and shouldn’t do in order to keep safe and healthy. Although COVID-19 is still being researched with emerging information, we know its survival rate differs from surface to surface.
Here’s an example from the New England Journal of Medicine and government agencies. Keep in mind that new information is still emerging and there are still a lot of unknowns, such as the effect of temperatures and sunlight.
Please watch this video that also reviews how long the COVID-19 virus can live on a surface.
In closing, we all understand how this present situation with the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting us all. Knowing how to combat this virus plus the important steps to take in preventing any of us from getting sick is of most importance. Be sure to follow these important steps! Keep social distance 2 meters or 6 feet from others, wash your hands thoroughly and often, cough and sneeze into our elbow, don’t touch our face at anytime, clean and disinfect highly touched surfaces daily and be sure to watch what we touch and what we do after. By doing this we can stay healthy, stay safe and prevent the spread and stop COVID-19!
Sources: Miller, C. & Palenik, C (2005). Infection Control & Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team. St. Louis. Elsevier Mosby. Whitney, C. (2020). How long can Viruses Live on Surfaces?
Journal of Hospital Infection: “Persistence of coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces and their inactivation with biocidal agents.”
New England Journal of Medicine: “Aerosol and surface stability of SARS-CoV-2 as compared with SARS-CoV-1.”
News release, National Institutes of Health.