Coronavirus RNA can persist for up to a month in room dust

Virus RNA, part of the genetic material within a virus, can persist up to a month in the dust, according to a study conducted in rooms where COVID-19 patients were isolated.

The study did not evaluate whether the dust can transmit the virus to humans. However, it could offer another option to monitor for COVID-19 outbreaks in specific buildings.

Way to monitor buildings

For this study, the research team worked with the teams responsible for cleaning rooms in the state of Ohio, where students who tested positive for COVID-19 were isolated.

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The study, published in the journal mSystems, found that some of the genetic material at the heart of the virus persists in dust, although the envelope around the virus is likely to break down sooner.

They found genetic material from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19, in 97% of the dust samples.

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The study offers another non-invasive route to monitor buildings for COVID-19 outbreaks, especially as more people get vaccinated and return to common spaces.

Dust monitoring, then, could offer insight similar to that when analyzing wastewater from a city.

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