Journal of Hygiene

Research Article

Institutional outbreaks of rotavirus diarrhoea: potential role of fomites and environmental surfaces as vehicles for virus transmission

Syed A. Sattara1, Nellie Lloyd-Evansa1, V. Susan Springthorpea1 and Rama C. Naira2

a1 From Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario K1H 8M5, Canada

a2 Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario K1H 8M5, Canada

Abstract

To assess the potential of fomites and environmental surfaces as vehicles in the transmission of rotaviral diarrhoea, disks (1 cm diameter) of various porous and non-porous materials were contaminated with about 105 plaque-forming units of the Wa strain of human rotavirus (HRV) suspended in faecal matter. The contaminated disks were then held for 10 days at either room temperature (22±2 °C) or 4°C with the relative humidity (RH) at the high (85±5%), medium (50±5%) or low (25±5%) level. Survival was longer on non-porous surfaces at the lower temperature and at lower humidity. In contrast, survival on porous surfaces was very variable; better on cotton-polyester than on poster card or paper currency on which HRV survived very poorly. These results suggest that under the right environmental conditions, HRV-contaminated objects could play a role in the transmission of rotavirus infections in hospitals, nursing homes and day-care centres.

(Received June 11 1985)

(Accepted August 31 1985)

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