Next time you check-in into a hotel, make sure you don't touch the objects around, for chances are you might just end up receiving an "infectious gift" from the room's previous occupant.
A group of researchers led by a team from the University of Virginia Health System found hotel guests with colds can leave their germs behind after checkout.
The study showed that adults infected with rhinovirus, the cause of half of all colds, may contaminate many objects used in daily life, leaving the disease for others who follow them.
While most of us are aware that handshaking and other forms of skin to skin contact can result in catching someone else's cold, many may assume that viruses can't live long on hard surfaces in living environments.
But, Dr. Owen Hendley, professor of pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the UVa Health System presented the research at the 46th annual Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and
Chemotherapy, in San Francisco, Calif. on Friday, Sept. 29, has cautioned that this assumption may not be completely true.
"To my surprise, in a hotel room occupied overnight by an adult with a cold, everything from television remote controls, telephones, light switches and faucets were contaminated with rhinovirus," said Hendley.
The study which was conducted in hotel rooms revealed that thirty five percent of the objects the guests with colds had handled had residual virus, demonstrating that people with colds do not have to be present for their germs to linger. They then set out to learn if germs lingering in the environment can make the leap from surfaces to fingers, and found that 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.
"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," he added.