A splash of hand sanitizer is unlikely to halt the spread of influenza in healthcare facilities, Japanese researchers have found.

The type A virus remains infectious in wet mucus from infected patients even after being exposed to an ethanol-based disinfectant for two minutes, they reported.

The researchers analyzed mucus collected from flu-infected patients and dabbed on human fingers. The goal was to simulate situations in which medical staff could transmit the virus. It took four full minutes of exposure to ethanol-based disinfectant to do the job, they said. 

If operators don’t adequately inactivate the virus between patients, they could enable its spread, researchers noted.

Findings were published in the journal mSphere.