Posted by Victoria Donovan ● 12/18/18 1:40 PM

6 Common Viruses You Should Know More About

You've almost definitely heard of these six viruses, and hopefully you take an active role in preventing them from infecting yourself or others around you, but how much do you really know about them? Are you actually aware of how they spread or how much of a threat they are to you or your employees? If you're doubtful, then this is the post for you. Swish's goal has always been to keep people as safe and healthy as possible, so we've got all the details you should know on these six virus you've either had or heard of.


1. Influenza

Also known as the flu, influenza is a short-lasting respiratory illness with a variety of symptoms. There are four types of influenza: A, B, C, and D. Type A and B are the causes of our yearly outbreaks, but A has many subtypes (like H1N1) and can affect animals, while B has no subtypes and can only infect humans. Type C causes mild respiratory illnesses, but isn't usually responsible for an outbreak. And Type D only infects cows, so it's not a concern for humans.

According to the Center For Disease Control, influenza spreads through close contact with people: "Tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby." It's also spread by touching shared surfaces, so for environments where there's a lot of face-to-face interactions, the flu is especially dangerous, and there should be strict infection prevention procedures. It's been proven that germs can spread throughout an office in just a few hours and that the bacteria can live on surfaces for a whole day. All it takes is one person to infect the whole setting, and influenza is not a illness that one can or should work through.

2. The Common Cold

We've all gotten a cold before, some probably a few times a year. It's estimated that adults get 2-5 colds a year: those awful days of wishing you didn't take an unclogged nose for granted and wanting more than anything to just nap. Some colds are more mild and can be worked through, but overall, colds are the leading cause of missed work days. For this reason, it is imperative that establishments take every step to prevent this disease from spreading so to reduce absenteeism. And while a cold isn't life threatening, having a weakened immune system, even after cold symptoms are gone, leaves people vulnerable to more serious related illnesses like pneumonia which will certainly lead to missed work days.

While close and prolonged contact with someone contaminated can transmit the germs, most cold germs are passed on through touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your eyes/nose/mouth. Regular disinfection of common high-traffic touch points is necessary to stop this transmission. There are more than 200 viruses that can cause the cold, but the most common is Rhinoviruses.

Sick at home with a cold


MRSA stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and what that means is that this staph bacteria is resistant to antibiotics like methicillin which is used to treat skin infections. It is known as a superbug for this reason. MRSA infections usually cause skin ailments like boils or abscesses, so it's hard to treat. One third of people actually carry staph in their nose, but it's not dangerous unless it gets infected. The most common place that MRSA gets passed around is in hospitals or other healthcare settings, and if you have open wounds/cuts, you're more susceptible. When infected with staph, red, painful, pus-filled bumps/rashes usually appear. The bacteria can also go deeper in the body and infect bones, the heart, blood, and more.

And before you think you're safe from MRSA because you haven't been to a hospital in ages, there's actually a strain of MRSA known as community-acquired because it can be passed around anywhere in the community like at work or school. Furthermore, some people can be carriers of MRSA, known as colonized, but not be sick from it. They're just as dangerous. For these reasons, it's important to use products that protect against MRSA when cleaning and disinfecting. MRSA can be passed on by sharing surfaces, and MRSA is not an infection you can sleep off or take over the counter meds to fix. You need medical attention if you get it. While it's reported that MRSA is on the decline, 80,000 people were still infected by it in 2011 and over 11,000 people died.

4. Listeria and Salmonella

Listeria, aka listerosis, and salmonella are intestinal diseases usually acquired from contaminated food. A few times a year you'll hear of food, usually meat, being recalled because of listeria or salmonella contamination. While salmonella can affect anyone and does infect over a reported million people each year, it is especially risky for pregnant women, elderly people, babies, and people with weakened immune systems, and these latter groups are the most likely to get listeria too. For pregnant women, getting listeria can lead to miscarriages, even if the women only have mild flu-like symptoms and pains. Listeria only affects about 1600-2500 Americans a year (and around 25,000 people worldwide) and its symptoms can develop several weeks after coming in contact with the contaminated food, where as salmonella makes itself known within days to similar symptoms of vomiting, headaches, bodily aches, and diarrhea. These are all symptoms that likely will lead to absenteeism.

Preventing listeria and salmonella takes a lot of effort from a variety of parties. People who prepare and serve food need to constantly ensure that their hands are cleaned, the food is at correct temperatures, and any tools/utensils that touch food is cleaned properly. Furthermore, farms and buildings that manufacture food need to be cleaned properly too with the right products. And since salmonella can be caught from touching pets/animals, it's imperative that hands are thoroughly washed after that.

Washing produce

5. Norovirus

Similar to listeria and salmonella, Norovirus often comes from contaminated food, but it's far more contagious. Norovirus is an acute gastroenteritis infection of the digestive tract, and it causes vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. People of all ages can contract it. Symptoms develop quickly and the virus can linger for weeks even after the symptoms and pain stop.

The only way to prevent this virus is cleaning because there are no vaccines or medical treatments. However, not every cleaning product can kill Norovirus or kill it in the time frame you need. Nevertheless, it's important to make every effort to prevent this virus as it's estimated that Norovirus alone "costs $60 billion worldwide due to healthcare costs and lost productivity." For more details and statistics on Norovirus, read this post.

6. Hepatitis

Hepatitis targets the liver, a vital organ. There are 5 types, though only A is preventable by cleaning, as B, C, and D come from direct contact with various bodily fluids, and E is from unsanitary water but is rare in North America. Hepatitis A mostly comes from ingesting food/liquid that is contaminated with infected fecal matter as well as close contact with an infected person. Symptoms of a fever, discolouration, bodily aches, and unexplained weight loss usually don't appear for at least two weeks after contracting the virus (sometimes even two months) and they last about a week. In 2016, there were about 2007 reported cases of Hepatitis A in the United States. A small percentage of people are hospitalized from this virus, and though it is rare to die from Hepatitis A, women in their third trimester of pregnancy are at a higher risk.

To prevent Hepatitis A, it is imperative that people effectively wash their hands after going to the washroom or after doing things like changing a diaper, especially if they then go handle food. Kitchens should be equipped with sinks and soap, and all surfaces and tools should be cleaned and disinfected at least daily to prevent Hepatitis A and other viruses.

Swish's Infection Prevention Solutions

Employers should be concerned about the above six viruses because taking care of employees or guests and minimizing the number of sick days taken should be a priority. Get in touch with the experts at Swish and for more information on the following products or to discuss an effective infection prevention strategy for your facility. At Swish, we carry many products designed to help your facility be as safe and clean as possible, and these ones are proven effective against one or more of the viruses mentioned above.

Disinfecting a high-touch surface
  • ES72/64 - this two step cleaning program is effective against influenza, the cold, salmonella and MRSA.
  • ES72/364 - this stronger, hospital grade version of the same two step program is effective against influenza, the cold, salmonella, MRSA, and Norovirus.
  • Swish Miracle Disinfectant Spray & Wipe Cleaner - this 3-in-1 product quickly removes germs and deodourizes. It's effective against influenza, the cold, salmonella, listeria, MRSA, Norovirus, and Hepatitis A.
  • Swish Quato 44 - a versatile but general purpose 3-in-1 disinfectant effective against influenza, salmonella, MRSA, and Norovirus.
  • Swish Quato 78 - this versatile cleaner specializes in managing the clean up of bodily fluids. It is effective against influenza, the cold, and salmonella.
  • ES65H - this hydrogen peroxide-based cleaner has a 10 minute dwell time, and can act as a disinfectant at a certain dilution. It's effective against influenza and the cold.

If you have any questions or concerns, reach out and our experts will guide you in your quest to make your facility clean, safe, and healthy for your employees and visitors. We hope this post has elevated your knowledge on these common and important but preventable viruses that affect many people.

Contact us today!



Topics: Disinfecting, Infection Control, Infection Prevention, Employee & Public Health, influenza, norovirus, salmonella, hepatitis, mrsa