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Hard surfaces can harbor virus for 48 hrs

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  • Hard surfaces can harbor virus for 48 hrs

    NORTH CANTON, Ohio, March 2 (UPI) -- Hard surfaces emerged as a key source of bacterial and viral infections during the H1N1 pandemic, a U.S. physician says.

    Dr. Robert Arnot, a TV medical correspondent and chief medical educator of, says studies show people unknowingly infect themselves by touching bacteria-laden surfaces and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.

    Arnot says the average adult, per hour, brings his or her hand to the face 17 times, the eyes five times, the nose three times, and the mouth 1.5 times, with the figures reaching far higher for children.

    Viruses such as H1N1, seasonal flu or the stomach flu do not survive long on porous items, but they can last up to 48 hours on non-porous surfaces, Arnot says.

    Scientists have thought infectious diseases were spread through the air or by direct person-to-person contact, but H1N1 virus can live up to 22 hours on a hard surface and be contagious to others for up to 8 hours. Hard surfaces are emerging as a potential key source of infection.

    Hard surfaces include stainless steel, toilet seats, phones, computer keyboards, communal coffee pots, water coolers, ATM machines, subways and buses, handrails, playground and gym equipment. The list also includes toys -- at home and in doctors' offices -- doorknobs, remote controls, shopping carts, gas station pump handles and keypads, gym equipment, buffet spoons and high-use telephones, Arnot says.