The impact of an environmental hygiene intervention in reducing the spread of viruses in an office building


Have you suspected your office colleague in giving you that cold? Well, this study suggests that sometimes, you might be right, and that a hygiene intervention including the use of hand sanitising wipes can help to reduce the changes of virus spread in an office setting.

The study was performed in an office building in which around 100 people were working. Two different hygiene-based interventions were tested: the first based on disinfection of surfaces, and the second based on disinfection of both surfaces and office worker hands (using either alcohol hand gel, or hand sanitising wipes). One door hand and an offer worker’s hands were seeded with tracer bacteriophage, which is an effective way of modelling the spread of infectious virus without putting anybody at risk of infection.

From a single point of environmental and human hand inoculation, the bacteriophage tracer spread far and wide, contaminating surfaces and office worker hands throughout the office building. The environmental surface disinfection intervention resulted in a 42% reduction in phage contamination, which was not statistically significant. The intervention that included both environmental surface disinfection and hand disinfection resulted in a statistically significant 85% reduction in bacteriophage contamination.

This study shows that a hygiene intervention targeting both surfaces and the hands of office workers resulted in a significant reduction in viral contamination in an office building setting. These findings are likely to translate into reduced spread of viral illness – making it less likely that you colleague will give you that cold!