Virus transfer between fingerpads and fomites


Alexandria B. Boehm, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Environmental and Water Studies, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-4020, USA.


Aims:  Virus transfer between individuals and fomites is an important route of transmission for both gastrointestinal and respiratory illness. The present study examines how direction of transfer, virus species, time since last handwashing, gender, and titre affect viral transfer between fingerpads and glass.

Methods and Results:  Six hundred fifty-six total transfer events, performed by 20 volunteers using MS2, ϕX174, and fr indicated 0·23 ± 0·22 (mean and standard deviation) of virus is readily transferred on contact. Virus transfer is significantly influenced by virus species and time since last handwashing. Transfer of fr bacteriophage is significantly higher than both MS2 and ϕX174. Virus transfer between surfaces is reduced for recently washed hands.

Conclusions:  Viruses are readily transferred between skin and surfaces on contact. The fraction of virus transferred is dependent on multiple factors including virus species, recently washing hands, and direction of transfer likely because of surface physicochemical interactions.

Significance and Impact of the Study:  The study is the first to provide a large data set of virus transfer events describing the central tendency and distribution of fraction virus transferred between fingers and glass. The data set from the study, along with the quantified effect sizes of the factors explored, inform studies examining role of fomites in disease transmission.