One of the problems in dealing with the Ebola outbreak is no one knows exactly how long the virus can live on contaminated surfaces. This is the conclusion of Kyle Bibby, University of Pittsburgh, in an article he published in the December 2014 issue of Environmental Science & Technology Letters.
This is critical information, according to Bibby, because knowing how long a pathogen survives on surfaces, in water, or in liquid droplets allows public health officials, doctors, scientists, as well as cleaning professionals to develop effective disinfection practices to prevent the spread of the disease.

"We're fortunate because we know this about many other viruses, germs, and health-risking bacteria," says Matt Morrison, communications manager for Kaivac, developers of the No-Touch and OmniFlex cleaning systems. "Knowing how long a virus lives on a surface helps cleaning workers perform their most important function, keeping people healthy."
Morrison notes that most bacteria, viruses, and germs that cause diseases need moisture and some nutrients to survive "and this can affect how long they live outside the body."
For instance:
• Cold viruses have been shown to survive on indoor surfaces for more than seven days.
• Flu viruses capable of being transferred to hands and causing an infection can survive on hard surfaces for 24 hours and as airborne droplets for about 10 hours.
• Salmonella can survive for around one to four hours on hard surfaces or fabrics.
• Norovirus can survive for days or weeks on hard surfaces.
• C. difficile can survive for five months.
• MRSA bacteria can survive for days, even weeks.

"In general, viruses survive longer on non-porous surfaces, such as certain types of floors, countertops, restroom fixtures, and plastics," adds Morrison. "So for cleaning workers, we then have an idea how long we must pay special attention, cleaning potentially contaminated surfaces."