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J Clin Microbiol. 1988 Aug;26(8):1513-8.

Rotavirus survival on human hands and transfer of infectious virus to animate and nonporous inanimate surfaces.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


We tested the survival of the Wa strain of human rotavirus on the hands of volunteers and also studied infectious virus transfer between animate and inanimate (stainless steel disks) surfaces. The virus was diluted in a 10% suspension of feces, and 10 microliters (1 X 10(3) to 4 X 10(4) PFU) was placed on each of the four fingerpads of the left hand. One milliliter of 20% tryptose phosphate broth in Earle balanced salt solution was used for virus elution from each fingerpad, and the hands were disinfected with 70% ethanol before they were washed with an antiseptic soap and water. At 20, 60, and 260 min after inoculation, approximately 57, 43, and 7%, respectively, of the input infectious virus could be recovered. For virus transfer, the inoculum (2 X 10(4) to 8 X 10(4) PFU) was allowed to dry, and the donor surface was kept in contact with the recipient surface for 10 s at a pressure of approximately 1 kg/cm2. At 20 and 60 min after virus inoculation, 16.1 and 1.8%, respectively, of the input infectious virus could be transferred from the contaminated hand to a clean disk; when a clean hand was pressed against a contaminated disk, virus transfer was 16.8 and 1.6%, respectively. Contact between a contaminated and a clean hand 20 and 60 min after virus inoculation resulted in the transfer of 6.6 and 2.8%, respectively, of the input infectious virus. These findings indicate the potential vehicular role for human hands in the spread of rotaviral infections.

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