Dentists should take care that while following all the rigorous protocols, they don’t take the COVID-19 aerosols home through the soles of their shoes!
Infectious disease specialist Mary E. Schmidt warned that the coronavirus survives on soles of rubber, leather and PVC for over five days or more.
There has been so much discussion about the aerosols in the ‘air’ of dental offices which could be spread by coughing, sneezing, dental procedures etc. We are taking utmost care to prevent these particles from entering our system.
But we should not forget that these contaminated aerosols also tend to fall on the ‘ground’ which can be easily transferred to the shoes of a person.
SHOES AS A CARRIER OF THE VIRUS!
A recent study has reported that as the medical staff walks around the ward, they can track virus all over the floor.
What was surprising was that the floor in the hospital pharmacy came back with a 100% positivity reading, suggesting the virus was being transmitted across the hospital, despite strong infection control measures.
When the soles of the shoes of those working in the ICU were tested for COVID-19, 50% came back positive. This suggests that employees picked up the virus on the soles of their shoes and carried it to the pharmacy and other areas of the hospital.
"In conducting these tests, [researchers] weren't expecting it on the ground," says Sandra Kesh, an infectious disease specialist and the deputy medical director at Westmed medical group in New York's Tri-State region. "When they swabbed the soles of the shoes, [nearly] half of those samples tested positive, and [researchers] ended up thinking that the medical workers are the ones trekking it around floors… They then started suggesting shoe coverings in hospitals for those who need to walk around."
A PROBABLE SOLUTION
Disposable shoe covers have been used in hospital settings since long to protect them from any contaminants that might get picked up from the floor and gets transferred somewhere else.
Perhaps this should be considered to be used routinely in dental offices too in view of the present pandemic.
Also, leaving the shoes outside the house could be a good option to prevent the entry of contaminants inside the house.
Guo ZD, Wang ZY, Zhang SF, et al. Aerosol and Surface Distribution of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 in Hospital Wards, Wuhan, China, 2020 [published online ahead of print, 2020 Apr 10]. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020;26(7):10.3201/eid2607.200885. doi:10.3201/eid2607.200885