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Infectious Disease Behavior Environment Infection Protection

How Viruses Easily Infect People Via Their Eyes & During Outings

4 years, 4 months ago

16829  0
Posted on Jan 31, 2020, 4 p.m.

Viruses can survive outside of the human body for varying lengths of time after being expelled from the infected host. First the nasty will remain inactive in a non-hostile liquid, wet or moist medium, when that environment dries out the virus can then remain dormant in a dry state for weeks to months depending on the type of virus. 

Viruses are expelled out from an infected body into the air after a person sneezes or coughs. Unless covered up a sneeze can eject at over 100 miles per hour and as many as 50,000 individual aerosolized micro droplets of saliva and other moisture can be expelled to travel for a distance between 19-16 feet according to research from MIT.

Uncovered aerosolized blasts of mist expelled from the cough or sneeze will be carrying viruses and bacteria, each of these droplets can hang in the air for minutes or longer depending on the size and weight of the droplet. Anyone who is not infected can walk into these particulates and inhale them to then become infected. 

In addition to inhaling the tiny aerosolized mist some of it can land in the moist eye to gain entry to the body and begin infection, all without the uninfected person knowing, and for the majority of people without them even thinking that the eye can be a portal to infection. Should an uninfected person touch a contaminated object/surface such as a door knob, elevator button, countertop, pen, or ATM/debit card station button they may even pick up disastrous microbes that have been left behind by an infected person. The potential to pick up a live virus while out in public is scary and enormous.

"These tiny droplets float through the air and you can get a cold, the flu or another illness when you come into contact with them. Sneeze and cough germs spread far and fast," explained Dr. Stephanie Kelleher, a Geisinger family physician.

Recently, a physician in Wuhan China says that he is positive that he became infected with the coronavirus via his eyes when he was working with infected patients. It is rather easy to do as explained above. Simple walk through an area where someone has coughed or sneezed, or even touching a contaminated area and then rubbing your eyes/mouth/nose will immediately re-activate the virus in the moisture. 

Even the Ebola virus has been confirmed to be living in human eyes. Potentially any wet, moist non-hostile surface/medium/environment outside of the human body can become a host to any virus or bacteria. When that dries up they will still remain there in a dry state in wait to be picked up by someone who then will touch their mouth, nose, or eyes which will put the virus back into a wet and warm environment where it will readily begin to quickly replicate and infect its new host almost immediately. 

How long a virus or bacteria can survive outside in a dry state without a host varies, in the case of TB bacteria that can be for decades. It has not yet been determined how long the coronavirus can live outside a host, but conservative projections are at least 5-7 days. Keep in mind it could be longer as in the case of HIV it has been shown to live in a dry state for far longer than that. 

To protect yourself, especially when out in areas where infection is known, you should wear an N95 rated face mask with a moisture barrier, and you should consider wearing eye protection as well. Wearing gloves, washing your hands frequently and keeping them away from your face and food until you do is most important. Be aware of where you are and the potential places where transmission of disease can occur such as those touched and shared by literally thousands of people which includes retail store card terminals, pens, school/work/library desks, elevator buttons, store door handles, public restrooms, public transportation poles/handles, shopping carts, crosswalk buttons, playground equipment, handrails, steering wheels, touch screens, computers/laptops, and more, they are all just crawling and teaming with a legion of microbes. Ick.

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