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How long does a cold or flu like the swine flu virus live on surfaces?

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Flu Virus Life on Surfaces: Different time frames are found referenced about the length of time influenza viruses can remain viable on surfaces outside a living host, but for most environments it is most often quoted that they can "live" for 24 to 48 hours on nonporous environmental surfaces and less than 12 hours on porous surfaces before becoming inert. Some of the study variations on this include:

From the UK National Health Service (NHS):

"The flu virus can live on a hard surface for up to 24 hours, and a soft surface for around 20 minutes."


See the link below in the related links section to this information from NHS.

Other studies have shown that flu viruses and other microbes can "live" on money, both coins and paper money, for much longer under certain conditions. Paper money had viruses viable in one study for over two weeks. See the related question section below for: "Can flu viruses be spread on money?"

In an other study, according to James Steckelberg, M.D., a disease specialist from the Mayo clinic, and other colleagues, it was found that:

The length of time that cold or flu germs can survive outside the body on an environmental surface, such as a doorknob, varies greatly. But the suspected range is from a few seconds to 48 hours - depending on the specific virus and the type of surface.


Click on the Related Link to read the rest of the article from Mayo Clinic.

Flu viruses tend to live longer on surfaces than cold viruses do. Also, it's generally believed that cold and flu viruses remain active ("live") longer on nonporous surfaces - such as plastic, metal or wood - than they do on porous surfaces - such as fabrics, skin or paper.

Although cold and flu viruses primarily spread from direct person-to-person contact, you can also become infected from contact with contaminated surfaces. The best way to avoid becoming infected with a cold or flu is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. See more prevention techniques in the related questions.

From the US CDC and Flu.Gov web pages:

"The H1N1 virus is new. Research is being conducted to better understand its characteristics. Studies have shown that flu viruses can survive on hard surfaces and can infect a person for up to 2 to 8 hours after being left on items like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks. Frequent hand washing will help you reduce the chance of getting contamination from these common surfaces."
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