The flu season is quickly approaching, which implies that millions will use hand sanitizers more often to safeguard themselves against influenza infection.
Most individuals, including medical experts, think that flu viruses are rapidly neutralized after being in contact with an ethanol-based sanitizer. However, fresh research discovers that this may not be the case for at least one type of influenza. In fact, researchers at the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine in Japan have found that influenza A virus (IAV) still remains active and infectious in infected wet mucus even after exposure to an ethanol-based sanitizer for a full two minutes.
Imagine someone coughing into their hand with the influenza A virus and then shaking yours a few minutes later. In order to deactivate the virus, you would have to rub your hands together with the sanitizer for four minutes if even the slightest trace of wet, infected mucus were to reach your hand.
“The physical properties of mucus protect the virus from inactivation,” physician and molecular gastroenterologist, Dr. Ryohei Hirose, claims. “Until the mucus has completely dried, infectious IAV can remain on the hands and fingers, even after appropriate antiseptic hand rubbing.”
According to the study, this particular flu virus will not be killed by a small splash of sanitizer quickly rubbed together for a few seconds. This is particularly scary for medical professionals. The research team says doctors and other medical professionals should be particularly careful; if they do not deactivate the virus properly between seeing different patients, they could spread the flu quickly to multiple people.