Wash those reusable bags; viruses can be picked up from them

Wash those reusable bags; viruses can be picked up from them

PORTLAND, Ore. – You might want to grab your reusable grocery bag and throw it in the wash.

According to local scientists, a virus on a reusable grocery bag sickened a Beaverton soccer team.

One of the players at a soccer tournament got sick and was kept in a hotel room away from others, but they got sick, too.

Scientists were able to trace it back to a bag, proving for the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, what many suspected: the norovirus can be spread just by touching objects.

In her new study, Washington County epidemiologist Kimberly Repp was able to pinpoint a reusable bag as the source of a mysterious norovirus outbreak.

The bag had been in the bathroom with a sick soccer player. Not knowing that another player picked it up and took it to a different room where the rest of the team was eating. Inside the bag were cookies.

"They passed the bag around – hands in their mouth and got sick," Repp said.

The cookies were store-bought and sealed. So that wasn't the source. The only other possibility was the bag. But the owner didn't hand it over for two weeks. Even so, Repp tested it and found the bag still had norovirus on it right under the handle.

"Now we know when you’re sick, norovirus is landing on everything," she said. "So we need to be aware in thinking we not just wipe down the toilet when someone is sick, we need to think about everything sitting on the counter – anything that can be touched by someone else and clean that too."

It is recommended that the reusable bags are washed by either throwing them in the washing machine or wiping them down with sanitizing wipes.

More information from The Journal of Infectious Diseases:

"A point-source norovirus outbreak caused by exposure to fomites"