November 25, 2013

Hepatitis C Virus Maintains Infectivity for Weeks after Drying on Inanimate Surfaces at Room Temperature: Implications for Risks of Transmission

  1. J Infect Dis.doi: 10.1093/infdis/jit648
  2. Elijah Paintsil 1, Mawuena Binka 2, Amisha Patel 2, Brett D. Lindenbach 3 and Robert Heimer 2+Author Affiliations

1 Departments of Pediatrics & Pharmacology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT

2 Department of the Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT

3 Microbial Pathogenesis, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT

Correspondence to: Elijah Paintsil, MD., Departments of Pediatrics and Pharmacology, Yale School of Medicine, 464 Congress Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA. Phone: 203-785-6101 Fax: 203-785-6961; email:


Background: Healthcare workers may come into contact with fomites containing infectious HCV during preparation of plasma, or following placement or removal of venous lines. Similarly, injection drugs users may come into contact with fomites. Hypothesizing that prolonged viability of HCV in fomites may contribute significantly to incidence; we determined the longevity of virus infectivity and the effectiveness of antiseptics.

Methods: We determined the volume of drops misplaced during transfer of serum or plasma. Aliquots equivalent to the maximum drop volume of plasma spiked with 2a HCV reporter virus were loaded into 24-well plates. Plates were stored uncovered at three temperatures: 4°, 22°, and 37°C for up to 6 weeks before viral infectivity was determined in a microculture assay.

Results: The mean volume of an accidental drop was 29 µl (min - max of 20 - 33 µl). At storage temperatures 4° and 22°C, we recovered viable HCV from the low titer spots for up to 6 weeks of storage. The rank order of HCV virucidal activity of commonly used antiseptics was bleach (1:10) > cavicide (1:10) > ethanol (70%).

Conclusions: The hypothesis of potential transmission from fomites was supported by the experimental results. The anti-HCV activity of commercial antiseptics varied

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