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A new study published in the Journal of Medical Virology shows how easily the virus which causes the common cold can be spread through touch transmission. Results revealed that the virus remains active on surfaces for over a day, meaning that people can pick up infections without ever having to have come into direct contact with the original carrier.

In particular, the study, looks at how rhinovirus (which causes the common cold) is transferred by touch transmission through daily life activity. The study methodology can be summarised as follows:

-- 30 individuals took part. All had a fresh naturally acquired common cold
-- The subjects were asked to spend the night in a hotel room, where they were forbidden to receive visitors or to wash their hands (except following a bathroom visit)
-- Subjects were asked to identify the objects they touched most frequently, which were then tested for the presence of the rhinovirus
-- Several months later, five of the original subjects returned to the hotel and were exposed to samples of their own mucus containing the rhinovirus to which he/she had acquired immunity during the preceding infection
-- The mucus was placed on three key sites in the room. The fingertips of the participants were tested for the presence of the virus

The study found that adults with rhinovirus colds deposit virus on one third of commonly touched surfaces. The study also indicates that transmission of rhinovirus infection by way of surfaces is important, and therefore of concern, because the virus remains available for transfer for at least a day. It can therefore be speculated that this transmission of rhinovirus could be an indicator of the level of transmission of other pathogens. People can look to protect themselves from infection by interrupting transmission, e.g. through surface cleaning of germ hotspots with a quality disinfectant product.

The UK Hygiene Council (www.hygienecouncil.co.uk) has some recommendations for avoiding infection this winter:

Coming in out of the cold: 5 Top Tips for dodging the winter bugs

· Hygienic hands – Washing your hands regularly can really help reduce the spread of germs. Try to wash your hands regularly throughout the day especially after coughing or sneezing or contact with someone with a cold

· Hand hygiene on the go - Try using an antibacterial foam which does not require water when out and about – this will help ensure your hands are protected

· Wrap up and walk – Donning scarf and hat and enjoying a brisk stroll to work will save you from brushing with the sniffling masses on the train or bus

· Hit the Herbs – Echinacea has long been thought to cut a person’s risk of catching cold and now scientists say it’s true! Taking this herbal remedy could cut the chance of catching a cold by half and reduce the length of a cold by more than a day

· Fight it with fitness – Staying fit can boost the immune system so aim for a minimum of 30 minutes walking 4 times a week. However, don’t over exercise; super-fit athletes are actually more prone to colds and flu than the average person.

For a copy of the published paper or further information please contact Vicky Squires on:
T: +44 (0)20 7798 9900
E: vicky.squires@toniclc.com.

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