How Long Do Viruses Live on Surfaces?

By LiamBean

The Ebola virus, also called the Ebola Virus Disease or EVD, is still a relatively new discovery. Due to this fact, information on this virus may undergo changes as more data becomes available.

The “Life” Expectancy of a Virus Varies

First, there is still some disagreement as to whether a virus is actually alive. This is primarily due to the fact that a virus does not have mitochondria, the mechanism that powers a cell. For this reason “viability” is often the word used to describe the survival rate (life) of a virus as opposed to “life*.”

Due to a number of factors, such as internal structure, outer coating, and environment conditions, viruses display a huge range of time in how long they can persist in an infectious state. Some viruses require water to remain viable, others require a particular temperature range, others still do better out of direct light.

In almost all cases, viruses can be killed by tearing apart their structure. Substances that can have this effect on a virus include soap, bleach, and the UV rays from sunlight.

* Note that scientists are somewhat divided on whether or not a virus is actually a living thing. Some claim that the fact that it contains RNA means it is living. Others claim that since it lacks mitochondria (the powerhouse of living cells) it is a non-living particle similar to a crystal.