Modern Medicine

Zika can survive for hours on hard, nonporous surfaces

A health worker fumigates densely populated areas to prevent the spread of Aedes aegypti and possible spread of the Zika virus in Lhokseumawe, Aceh province, Indonesia, on Sept. 16, 2016.
Fachrul Reza | NurPhoto | Getty Images

The Zika virus is able to infect people even after sitting out on a counter for several hours, according to new research.

But the good news is that in that state, it is also easy to kill with common household chemicals.

The study, published Tuesday, found that the Zika virus — which can produce severe brain defects in fetuses and young children and has been linked to other harmful conditions — can be highly contagious even after hours of living outside a host.

The research was conducted by scientists from RMC Pharmaceutical Solutions, a consultancy for drug developers, and Microbac Laboratories, a provider of laboratory analytics. The team presented its findings at the annual meeting of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists in Denver, Colorado.

The study also looked at how effective some common laboratory cleaning chemicals were at killing the virus, including isopropyl alcohol, diluted bleach, quaternary ammonium/alcohol, peracetic acid and pH 4 or pH 10 solutions.

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The most effective solutions in killing the virus on surfaces were isopropyl alcohol and quaternary ammonium/alcohol. The pH 4 or pH 10 solutions were the least effective, while diluted bleach and peracetic acid were found to be effective virus killers, except when the Zika sample was suspended in blood.

"Zika can survive on hard, nonporous surfaces for as long as eight hours, possibly longer when the environment contains blood, which is more likely to occur in the real world," S. Steve Zhou, one of the study's authors and director of virology and molecular biology for MicroBioTest Laboratories (a Microbac unit), said. "The good news is that we found that disinfectants such as isopropyl alcohol and quaternary ammonium/alcohol are generally effective in killing the virus in this type of environment and can do so in a little as 15 seconds."

Zika is usually spread through disease-carrying mosquitoes, as well as from person to person. Getting the disease from the environment is rare, though the research notes there has been at least one case of a person contracting the virus through laboratory exposure.