Carpets can be reservoirs for Viruses and Bacteria/ The Flip side of Carpets

Virus on Carpet Washington DCDid you know, that outdoor air quality is significantly better than indoor air quality?

  • A rather disturbing fact that almost makes you want to pitch a tent in your back yard, right!

However rest easy, because carpeting can actually make a positive difference on the quality of your health and lifestyle!

Carpets can improve Indoor Air Quality

Carpets have the capacity to entrap allergens and other potentially detrimental microbes within their fibers, thereby restricting them from becoming easily airborne within your home, subsequently making you and your loved ones susceptible to a myriad of illnesses!

Carpets can be Microbial Reservoirs!

Yet, don’t be fooled! Just because microbes and allergens may entrapped within the carpet fibers of your home, doesn’t mean that they are non-existent!

  • They’re still there!

A simple walk over a microbe infested area of your carpet may be all that is needed to release trapped organisms like viruses, bacteria and mold spores, thereby transporting them from the carpet fibers that lie beneath your feet into the air that you so unsuspectingly breathe!

  • And don’t we know how potentially detrimental these organisms can be to our health?

To make matters worse, certain microbes have the ability to survive for unusually extended periods of time, and in the most unusual environments too, like carpet fibers! To crown it all, these ‘carpet fiber’ entrapped microbes have the ‘phantom’ capacity to inflict a never-ending cycle of infection and re-infection of a particular ailment on every single member of your household, one at a time!

So, what lies within?

Norovirus, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Oh My!

  • Norwalk virus aka Norovirus

According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Norwalk virus (also known as the Norovirus) is a very contagious virus that can infect anyone. You can get it from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed. This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up. These symptoms can be serious for some people, especially young children and older adults. Norovirus has the capacity to remain viable anywhere from 12 days to 28 days, even within carpet fibers! If not dealt with promptly and efficiently, the latter has the potential to be released from within carpet fibers and become airborne when you walk, lie or simply touch infected carpets. Needless to say, this thereby encourages a vicious cycle of infecting and re-infecting members of your household or business.  According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), porous surfaces like carpets and upholstery should be steam cleaned at either 158°F for 5 minutes or 212°F for 1 minute to completely inactivate the virus and break the vicious infect and re-infect cycle.

  • Salmonella

According to the CDC, Salmonella is a bacteria that makes people sick and in extreme cases can be potentially fatal. Most people infected develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most individuals recover without treatment. In some cases however, diarrhea may be so severe that the patient may need to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites, implying potential fatality. Populations with compromised immune systems are most susceptible to infection.

According to the CDC, carpets are a likely site of contamination in households. To make matters worse, once contaminated, eliminating Salmonella by using conventional carpet cleaning methods is difficult, if not impossible.

Precaution: You never know what may be lurking in the fibers of your carpet, so don’t eat food which has fallen!

  • Campylobacter

This is a bacterium, which loves your carpets during the winter time. It also likes damp fibers. The bacterium causes campylobacteriosis and the typical symptoms are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, and dysentery syndrome.

The Main Point?

As with most things, carpets have a ‘Catch 22’, too! Yes, they are ‘better than good’, BUT they require routine professional cleaning and maintenance to guarantee that you experience their full benefits which include a comfortable lifestyle, and a fairly clean bill of health, relatively speaking! 

Sources

Image: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/pictures/20000/velka/under-the-carpet.jpg
Norovirus Overview: http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/index.html
Norovirus Duration: https://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/norovirus/tables/evidence-table-q3-ron.html
Norovirus Fact Sheet: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/norovirus-factsheet.pdf
Household Contamination with Salmonella Enterica: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/9/1/02-0214_article
Salmonella: https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/general/
Campylobacter: http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/diseases/campylobacter/index.html