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'Tis the season for...germs in the library!


Scrubbing the gunk off of keyboards and mice turns out to be a little different than disinfecting them... and when it comes to disinfecting, would you be surprised if I told you that alcohol doesn't disinfect against everything? Hand sanitizer either! Disinfecting against enterovirurusnorovirus (stomach flu), and influenza (flu) requires some special action.

Disinfecting against viruses
A little Google searching brought me to this excellent FAQ by the New Jersey Department of Health about the respiratory virus Enterovirus-68. It gives recommendations for what WILL work to disinfect surfaces to prevent the spread of enteroviruses (and noroviruses) in the section, "What is the best way to clean surfaces?" 

Is it worth the trouble?
Before you don your hazmat suit and sanitize your public PCs, you should know this: in the case of the influenza virus, disinfecting might not make a big difference. From WebMD:

But before you douse all your possessions with bleach, there’s one thing you should know: Experts say that you really don’t need to bother.

“Honestly, if you’re trying to prevent the flu, there’s just not evidence that spraying everything with disinfectant is going to make any difference,” says Christine Hay, MD, assistant professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Read more here: http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/features/killing-flu-germs-what-works

So...what's the take-away for stopping viruses?

  • Disinfection. If you feel like you want to disinfect, use a bleach solution or look for products that specifically say they kill norovirus and rhinovirus. Make sure that they will not damage the equipment you are disinfecting! (Monitors and other types of screens especially may require special products)
  • Prevention! Focus on handwashing (scrub those nasties away!), not touching your face with unwashed hands, and trying hard not to spread any viruses you may be carrying (stay home when you're sick, cover your cough and sneeze!).

Additional resources:


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