Worldwide annually there are 1.7 million deaths from diarrheal diseases and 1.5 million deaths from respiratory infections . Viruses cause an estimated 60% of human infections, and most common illnesses are produced by respiratory and enteric viruses . Unlike bacterial disease, viral illness cannot be resolved with the use of antibiotics. Prevention and management of viral disease heavily relies upon vaccines and antiviral medications . Both vaccines and antiviral medications are only 60% effective . Additionally, to date there are no vaccines or antiviral drugs for most common enteric and respiratory viruses with the exception of influenza virus and hepatitis A virus (HAV). Consequently, viral disease spread is most effectively deterred by preclusion of viral infection.

Increases in population growth and mobility have enhanced pathogen transmission and intensified the difficulty of interrupting disease spread . Control of viral disease spread requires a clear understanding of how viruses are transmitted in the environment . For centuries it was assumed that infectious diseases were spread primarily by the airborne route or through direct patient contact, and the surrounding environment played little or no role in disease transmission. The Center for Disease Control and the American Hospital Association focused on patient diagnosis due to the belief that nosocomial infections were not related to microbial contamination of surfaces . Over the years studies have changed the perspective on viral transmission to include a more complex multifactorial model of disease spread. There is now growing evidence that contaminated fomites or surfaces play a key role in the spread of viral infections .

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