FACTS ABOUT VIRUSES
* A virus is not a living organism, but a protein molecule (DNA) covered by a protective layer of lipid (fat), which, when absorbed by the cells of the eye, nose or cheek mucosa, changes the genetic code of the cells.
* Since the virus is not a living organism but a protein molecule, it is not killed, but decays on its own. How long it takes depends on the temperature, humidity and type of material where it lies.
* The virus is very fragile; the only thing that protects it is a thin outer layer of fat.
- SOAP or DETERGENT is the very best, because the foam cuts the fat (that is why you have to rub so much: for 20 seconds or more, to make a lot of foam). By dissolving the fat layer, the protein molecule breaks down and cannot enter your cells.
- HEAT melts fat; this is why it is so good to use water above 77 degrees Fahrenheit for washing hands, clothes and everything. In addition, hot water makes more foam and that makes it even more useful.
- ALCOHOL or any mixture with alcohol over 65% melts the outer fat layer of the virus. Alcohol for drinking is not 65% (which would be 130 proof) so it has no effect. Listerine does have 65% alcohol.
- BLEACH directly dissolves the protein, breaks it down from the inside. Mix 1/3 cup of bleach in 1 gallon or 4 teaspoons per quart of water. Leave on at least one minute.
- NOT USEFUL Antibiotics have no effect on viruses because it is not a living organism like a bacteria. Vinegar does not work.
.HOW LONG DOES CORONAVIRUS LAST ON SURFACES?
It depends on the material, heat, humidity and exposure to sunlight. A recent study by UCLA, NIAID, CDC, and Princeton found detectable levels of virus at
- 4 hours for copper
- 24 hours for cardboard
- 48 hours for stainless steel
- 72 hours for plastic.
But just because the virus is detectable (can be found) does not mean it is transmissible (can cause disease).
* NEVER shake used or unused clothing, sheets or cloth. If you shake it or use a feather duster, the virus molecules can float in the air for up to 3 hours, and can lodge in your nose.
* The virus molecules remain very stable in external cold, or artificial as air conditioners in houses and cars. They also need moisture to stay stable, and especially darkness. Therefore, dehumidified, dry, warm and bright environments will degrade it faster.
* The more confined the space, the more concentration of the virus there can be. The more open or naturally ventilated, the less. So open your windows and run fans to move the air.
THREE KEY WAYS TO PROTECT
YOURSELF & OTHERS
HAND WASHING & CLEANING YOUR SPACE
Wash your hands with hot water and soap for 20 seconds. You need to create a foam to kill the virus. Do this whenever you have touched a surface that you do not know has been cleaned.
- Hand sanitizer can be used if soap and water are not available, but not if visible dirt
- Moisturize dry hands, because the virus can hide in the micro cracks. The thicker the moisturizer, the better.
- Keep your NAILS SHORT. Long nails can hide the virus and be a source of infection
Any objects coming into your house need to be either cleaned with soap and water or other cleaner or should be stored in separate space for 4-5 days to allow virus to degrade.
Clean counters in kitchen and bathroom often as well as surfaces that are touched frequently such as light switches, door knobs, tables, keys, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
Keeping away from other people by at least 6 feet is critical indoors. Hand shakes and hugs are ways to spread the virus. Be aware of where other people are around you and protect both of you by maintaining this distance.
If you are taking groceries or mail to someone, leave the bags outside and have that person take groceries in the house, if at all possible.
WEARING A MASK IN PUBLIC
While N95 masks and surgical masks should be reserved for medical personnel, home made masks offer protection in lessening your exposure to germs as well as decreasing your risk of spreading germs. Many people who have coronavirus do not feel ill but are spreading the germ to others. You could be one of these people and give the germ to others.
Also a mask is a reminder not to touch your own face or nose!
If you are around someone who is high risk (over 60 or has chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, lung disease, kidney failure), you should wear a mask when you are with that person. If in doubt, wear a mask to protect this person.
All three of these things are necessary to provide maximum protection
to yourself and others around you.
Compiled by Jane H McCaleb, M.D. April 3, 2020