Can You Get Flu From A Doorknob?

31 March, 2020

Wintertime brings cooler weather when we become more susceptible to much-dreaded colds and the flu. Everyone is sniffling, coughing with noses dripping, and it’s this time of year when you need to watch out and protect yourself from picking up a virus including the new, highly infectious global virus Covid19.

The rumour mill says you can get sick from touching an infected handrail or doorknob. So, if a person who has the flu or a cold, coughs into their hand and touches a doorknob, will the germs be infectious? The answer is yes – but probably not for as long as you imagine.

How Long Are Viruses Infectious?

A virus can live on a doorknob, but it can only stay active for a limited time. Most viruses do not like the conditions of the outside world, preferring instead the warmth inside our bodies. In moist, humid environments, in nostrils or throats they thrive.

You can’t see bacteria unless you’re looking at them under a microscope, so they’re the hidden enemy. Before you panic and go on a scrubbing and cleaning frenzy you should know that germs don’t survive long on external surfaces.

Do All Door Handles Have Bacteria?

Research has shown that the viruses remain contagious on surfaces from anything between nine hours to three days, preferring harder surfaces to softer ones. Bacteria lasts longer on non-porous areas, material such as plastic and metal, while on porous surfaces such as clothes and paper they quickly disappear.

Flu viruses live longer than cold viruses and both survive for a greater amount of time when temperatures are low.

You have a greater risk of bacterial growth on a doorknob or door handle which is frequently used, so watch out for one on a busy public bathroom door.

Protecting Yourself

Detergents and bleach will destroy any bacteria, so it’s good practise to wipe down your door handles and doorknobs. Generally, in the home, any virus will have died and no longer be contagious within half a day. The best way to protect yourself is the age-old recommendation of regularly washing your hands, using soap and hot water or an alcohol-based sanitizer. Getting a flu shot will give you added protection.

Other tips to prevent you from passing on germs to anyone else is to keep your distance from others if you’re feeling ill, cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing and always throw away tissues in the bin.

If you really don’t want to come down with a virus avoid surfaces in public places, that not only includes doorknobs and lift buttons but train and escalator handles.

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