Hepatitis C Virus Proven Infectious for Six Weeks on Surfaces

Researchers from the Yale University schools of public health and medicine concluded the hepatitis C virus can remain infectious for up to six weeks on surfaces, based on their study results.

A study from Yale University schools of public health and medicine revealed that even an accidental drop of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) can remain infectious on surfaces for up to 6 weeks at room temperature. The study was recently published in The Journal of Infectious Disease.

The scientists injected tiny amounts of the virus into human plasma and measured its activity at different temperature settings. They found that between 4 and 22 degrees Celsius, the virus remained infectious. Other variables, such as concentration of the virus and the humidity of the storage environment, also influenced the infectivity.

Commercially available antiseptics were discovered to be effective disinfectants if used in the recommended concentrations. However, if they were diluted, they were not successful disinfectants.

“Our findings clearly demonstrate that strict infection control practices and universal precautions are needed in the clinical setting to avoid contact with infectious agents such as HCV that can survive on surfaces,” Yale School of Public Health Professor Robert Heimer said in a statement. “The implications go beyond the clinic to the risk environment of people who use syringes outside of medical care settings. Unsafe practices, such as sharing of syringes by people who inject drugs or careless handling of human blood during home delivery of intravenous medications, can lead to HCV transmission.”