Environmental Risks In Healthcare

Norovirus

What You Need to Know

Norovirus is a single stranded RNA virus belonging to the Caliciviridae family and is often responsible for outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis in both healthcare and community settings

Norovirus infections affect all age groups but can be most severe in the elderly and immunocompromised

Immunity after infection is limited in time to several weeks

Exposure typically results from fecal contamination exposure found on environmental surfaces, by ingestion of contaminated food/water, or by exposure to aerosols of norovirus

Shedding of norovirus may continue to occur up to several weeks (especially in infants) after symptoms have resolved

What You Need to Do

Avoid exposure if possible and recommend that any individuals displaying symptoms stay home or be segregated/isolated from the general public

Promote hand hygiene using soap and water or ethanol based hand sanitizers

Consider suspending group activities especially those involving food such as buffets

Strict hand hygiene protocol must be enforced for food handlers and any handlers displaying symptoms must remain off work for at least 48 hours after symptom resolution

Increase cleaning and disinfection frequency especially of all high touch areas

Myths and Misconceptions

According to the CDC, norovirus may be responsible for the vast majority of gastroenteritis cases in the USA each year-TRUE

A vaccine for norovirus prevention was recently developed and is currently being tested-FALSE

Numerous outbreaks of norovirus have been traced to food handling and fecal-hand contamination-TRUE

In a recent study published in AJIC (American Journal of Infection Control) norovirus was identified as the pathogen most often responsible for shutdown/closure of a hospital unit/department-TRUE

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