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Hotel Guests Often Leave Their Cold Behind

ed, was used to contaminate two sets of light switches, telephone key pads and telephone handsets in two different rooms. In one room, the mucus was allowed to dry for one hour. In the second room, the mucus dried overnight. The participants were asked to dial phone numbers, hold the handsets and flip on light switches in both rooms. Sixty percent of the contacts with contaminated objects that dried for an hour resulted in rhinovirus transfer to fingertips. Thirty-three percent of contacts with objects that dried overnight resulted in rhinovirus transfer to fingertips.

Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was used to detect rhinovirus ribonucleic acid (RNA). The RNA of rhinovirus is surrounded by proteins that help it bind to other cells. Without a host cell, the virus cannot replicate, making it even more surprising that it survived overnight to be detected and transferred.

“While transmission of rhinovirus through dried nasal mucus on surfaces is not efficient, people still should understand that the virus remains available for transfer at least one day,” said Hendley. “The next time you stay in a hotel, knowing that rhinovirus may be left from the last guest, you may wonder how meticulous the clean up crew was in their work.”

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