A different type of dirty house.....
October 21, 2009 9:19 AM   Subscribe

I left the house last Wednesday afternoon for a week. My roommate was hospitalized for H1N1 on Friday. I am returning to our home tonight. What precautions should I take to sanitize the place/protect myself ?

My roommate called me on last Thursday night to tell me he was sick and suspected it was H1N1. He was hospitalized on Friday and released last night to recuperate at his parents' house. Our place has been empty (and without heat) since Friday afternoon.

My roommate stuck to his bedroom and our shared living space of kitchen, bathroom, and living room. How likely is it that I can be infected at this point? I plan on spraying disinfectant as well as wiping all shared surfaces (door knobs, stair banisters, house phone, counters) with disposable disinfecting wipes. I have made an appointment with my doctor for Friday, but what can I do in the mean time to prevent anything?
posted by wannabehippie to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
Don't worry about it if he's been out of the place for more than two days. It survives less than a day on most surfaces, and up to two days on a few.
posted by Ery at 9:24 AM on October 21, 2009

From the CDC's 2009 H1N1 Flu and You page:

How long can influenza virus remain viable on objects (such as books and doorknobs)?
Studies have shown that influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for 2 to 8 hours after being deposited on the surface.

What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination?
Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk, for example, and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.

What household cleaning should be done to prevent the spread of influenza virus?
To prevent the spread of influenza virus it is important to keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.
posted by Liver at 9:25 AM on October 21, 2009

It really sounds as if you are going to be just fine. If it just won't get out of your head, buy some alcohol wipes and wipe down all door knobs, sink/toilet/kitchen knobs, light switches, remotes, counters and anything else likely to be shared touched.

There have been several indications the (n)H1N1 spreads mainly through airborne vectors rather than surface contamination.

All that being said, still wash hands regularly and avoid biting fingernails, rubbing eyes, touching face.
posted by edgeways at 9:49 AM on October 21, 2009

If I were you, based on the information above from the CDC, I'd assume that the virus isn't still hanging around, but it would make me feel better to clean up (the way I normally do, nothing special) in the kitchen and bathroom.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:51 AM on October 21, 2009

My roommate called me on last Thursday night to tell me he was sick and suspected it was H1N1. He was hospitalized on Friday and released last night to recuperate at his parents' house.

I'm a little confused- does your roommate think he has H1N1, or was he actually diagnosed with it?

Also, H1N1 has an incubation period of 1-4 days. If your roommate felt sick on Thursday, it's probable he was carrying the virus, and therefore exposed you, before you left. I'm in the "you're probably fine, just don't make out with him" camp.
posted by mkultra at 9:56 AM on October 21, 2009

I'd feel better if I swabbed alcohol on any surface that was likely touched by snotty hands:
all doorknobs
wall light switches and lamp switches
toilet and toilet flush lever
fridge handle
handles of any pitchers or shared containers in the fridge
kettle handle
remote control
cat (JUST KIDDING. Please don't put alcohol on a cat. But maybe I'd wipe his kissable head with a damp towel, I do when someone in my house has a cold sore)

More importantly I'd wash my own hands a lot, keep them off my face, and eat ColdFX like crazy. Take it from a Canadian: that stuff works.
posted by twistofrhyme at 12:00 PM on October 21, 2009

Flu viruses are mostly transmitted by air. Sick person coughs or sneezes, and distributes virus. Virus landing on the kitchen counter last Friday is not live.

But. It's nice to have a real clean house. Take this opportunity for a good housecleaning. Use a good disinfectant cleaner. I like pine based cleaners (pine oil is a disinfectant) but there are other choices. Bleach or alcohol can be pretty destructive. Also open windows and curtains. Fresh air and sunlight are bad for germs. Definitely wipe down the surfaces mentioned by twistofrhyme.
posted by theora55 at 12:54 PM on October 21, 2009

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I did do through cleaning job (and popped a few cold fxs too twistofrhyme!). It's been about a month since and no flu symptoms!
posted by wannabehippie at 9:22 AM on November 23, 2009

« Older Please help a n00b!   |   Help me stop helping my coworkers Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.