WASHINGTON D.C. (CBS) – Do employees who come to work with a cold do more harm than good? According to a study, the answer is usually yes.

Research presented at the 54th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy says contamination found on a door knob or a table top can result in the spread of viruses throughout an office building.

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In the study, researchers placed bacteriophage MS-2, acting a substitute for the human norovirus, which each year causes millions of people to get sick, on one-to-two commonly touched places, such as door knobs and tables.

At different times, researchers sampled other surfaces capable of carrying the bacteriophage and “within two to four hours between 40 and 60 percent of the fomites sampled were contaminated with the virus,” said Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona, Tucson, who presented the study.

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Alarming statistics, but Gerba says the solution is an easy one, “Using disinfecting wipes containing quaternary ammonium compounds (QUATS) registered by EPA as effective against viruses like norovirus and flu, along with hand hygiene, reduced virus spread by 80 to 99 percent.”

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