In 2014 a study: How quickly viruses can contaminate buildings — from just a single doorknob; was presented by Dr. Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona at the American Society for Microbiology in Washington, D.C. The study found that viruses will spread throughout an office building in as little as 2 to 4 hours. This test was designed to simulate how the norovirus could rapidly spread throughout an office. According to Dr. Gerba, eighty percent of the infections you get, you’re going to pick up from your environment. Dr. Gerba described offices as bacteria cafeterias, epitomizing this description; San Diego State University and the University of Arizona conducted a study. The research focused on 90 offices in three cities and found more than 500 species of bacteria.
The norovirus has been described as the perfect human pathogen and is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis,(induces vomiting and diarrhea) in the United States.
Symptoms include projectile vomiting and severe diarrhea. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); norovirus causes an estimated 23 million illnesses in America and contributes to 56,000-71,000 hospitalizations and 570-800 deaths each year.
Norovirus can survive on surfaces for weeks – in some cases, months – and the virus remains contagious throughout its survival cycle. What makes it so spectacular? Infected people produce a lot of the virus – over a billion in a single release event – but it takes as few as 20 individual virus particles to make someone sick.
Infected people can continue to spread the virus for days after their symptoms have subsided.
Chipotle Mexican Grill in 2017 stated one employee caused an outbreak of the norovirus, that outbreak cost the company $1 billion in value.
Viruses, unlike bacteria, do not under-go binary fission and cannot reproduce outside the host body. However, viruses can spread rapidly throughout a shared environment.
The group of viruses known as the Human rhinovirus (HRV) is responsible for up to half of the common colds people acquire. The HRV group consists of more than 100 serotypes (a strain of microorganism). HRV can survive on hard surfaces such as doorknobs keyboards desktops for up to seven days; however, they are the most contagious in the first 24 hours.
“Superbugs” or antibiotic-resistant microorganisms are known to be a significant health risk. Their existence is linked to the overuse of antibiotics, and new research has shown that the misuse of disinfectants leads to the growth of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Laboratory testing indicates the abuse (not following label instructions) of disinfectants. Increases bacteria’s resistants to ciprofloxacin “Cipro” a widely used antibiotic by 256 times. Additionally, the study found that bacteria are developing a resistance to the disinfectants, and these resistant organisms become dominant in the environment. The findings are concerning as disinfectants are the first line of defense against the spread of illness-causing bacteria. This misuse of disinfectants not only helps to create superbugs, but they jeopardize the effectiveness of the first line of defense.
Bacteria, unlike viruses, can undergo binary fission reproduce outside of a host.
In this process, the bacterium, which is a single cell, divides into two identical daughter cells. Binary fission begins when the DNA of the bacterium divides into two (replicates). The bacterial cell then elongates and splits into two daughter cells, each with identical DNA to the parent cell. Each daughter cell is a clone of the parent cell.
When conditions are favorable, such as the right temperature and the availability of nutrients, some bacteria like Escherichia coli can divide every 20 minutes. Meaning that in just 7 hours, one bacterium can generate 2,097,152 bacteria. After one more hour, the number of bacteria will have risen to a colossal 16,777,216. That’s why we can quickly become ill when pathogenic microbes invade our bodies. (microbiology online)
Artwork of bacterial cells becoming resistant to antibiotics.This resistance is acquired from a donor cell’s plasmid (circular unit of deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA), which has resistance seen at upper left (red/yellow, red is resistance). Viral transmission involves a virus (pink, lower left) obtaining a resistant gene, and passing it to a bacterial cell that incorporates it into its plasmid. Bacterial cells also acquire segments of DNA released from dead cells (upper left). Mutations (not seen) may also occur, which may be antibiotic resistant and thus allow the bacteria to survive and reproduce.
© Bryson Biomedical Illustrations / Custom Medical Stock Photo / Science Photo Library