Transfer rate of enveloped and non-enveloped viruses between fingerpads and surfaces.
Applied and environmental microbiology
Fomites can represent a reservoir for pathogens, which may be subsequently transferred from surfaces to skin. In this study we aim to understand how different factors (including virus type, surface type, time since last handwash, and direction of transfer) affect virus transfer rates, defined as the fraction of virus transferred, between fingerpads and fomites. To determine this, 360 transfer events were performed with 20 volunteers using Phi6 (a surrogate for enveloped viruses) and MS2 (a surrogate for non-enveloped viruses), and three clean surfaces (stainless steel, painted wood, and plastic). Considering all transfer events (all surfaces and both transfer directions combined), the mean transfer rates of Phi6 and MS2 were 0.17 and 0.26, respectively. Transfer of MS2 was significantly higher than Phi6 (P<0.05). Surface type was a significant factor that affected the transfer rate of Phi6: Phi6 is more easily transferred to and from stainless steel and plastic than to and from painted wood. Direction of transfer was a significant factor affecting MS2 transfer rates: MS2 is more easily transferred from surfaces to fingerpads than from fingerpads to surfaces. Data from these virus transfer events, and subsequent transfer rate distributions, provide information which can be used to refine quantitative microbial risk assessments. This study provides a large-scale data set of transfer events with a surrogate for enveloped viruses, which extends the reach of the study to the role of fomites in the transmission of human enveloped viruses like influenza and SARS-CoV-2. Importance This study created a large-scale data set for the transfer of enveloped viruses between skin and surfaces. The data set produced by this study provides information on modelling the distribution of enveloped and non-enveloped virus transfer rates, which can aid in the implementation of risk assessment models in the future. Additionally, enveloped and non-enveloped viruses were applied to experimental surfaces in an equivalent matrix to avoid matrix effects, so results between different viral species can be directly compared without confounding effects of different matrices. Our results indicating how virus type, surface type, time since last handwash, and direction of transfer affect virus transfer rates can be used in decision-making processes to lower the risk of viral infection from transmission through fomites.
View details for DOI 10.1128/AEM.01215-21
View details for PubMedID 34469200