How long can viruses live outside the body?

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We have all seen the news reports about the tiny, disgusting germs that are on the surfaces we all encounter every day in our homes and places of work. With cold and flu season upon us, preparations are now being made by many to prevent transmission of viruses, but before you go through drastic measures, there are some important facts about viruses that you should know, such as how long do viruses live on our phones, doorknobs, and keyboards?

There is not one answer to this question. The life of a virus (technically, viruses are not alive) depends on what type of virus it is, the conditions of the environment it is in, as well as the type of surface it is on.

Cold viruses have been shown to survive on indoor surfaces for approximately seven days. Flu viruses, however, are active for only 24 hours.

All viruses have the potential to live on hard surfaces, such as metal and plastic, longer than on fabrics and other soft surfaces. In fact, infectious flu viruses can survive on tissues for only 15 minutes. Viruses tend to also live longer in areas with lower temperatures, low humidity, and low sunlight.

How long these germs are actually capable of infecting you is a different story. In general, viruses are not likely to be a danger on surfaces very long. In fact, while cold viruses can live for several days, their ability to cause infection decreases after approximately 24 hours, and after only five minutes, the amount of flu virus on hands fall to low levels, making transmission much less likely.

518780419 hand washThe best defense against active viruses remains thorough hand washing. In addition, wiping down surfaces with anti-bacterial or alcohol-based cleaners will help kill viruses and decrease the chances of transmission.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.