Norovirus or Winter Vomiting Disease. Vomitus or Diarrhea. Fecal or Faecal. Contaminated Hands or Surfaces. Foodborne or Person-to-Person. We hear a lot of conflicting distractions. The six simple truths about norovirus are these:
- 2013 had a fast start and now 2014 looks potentially bigger.
Early in 2013 England and Wales have a total of 3,538 confirmed cases of norovirus this season. Officials at the Health Protection Agency (HPA) apply a ratio of one laboratory case likely translating to a further 288 cases among those who do not seek medical treatment. That adds up to 1+ million people are likely to have been affected, 83 per cent higher than at the same stage in 2011. Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases is warning of a norovirus epidemic, as 2012 shows one of the highest infection rates on record. Canada's spike in norovirus may be due to a new strain entering global circulation which tends to occur every three or four years. 1 in every 15 Americans will get norovirus illness this year. Norovirus is also estimated to cause over 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths each year in the United States.
- Norovirus is a highly contagious pathogen that travels via the fecal-hand oral route. Norovirus infections can be contracted through contact with contaminated individuals, surfaces or food. Symptoms of norovirus infection usually appear one to two days after exposure, and include diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal cramping. The disease usually resolves itself in one to three days, but illness can be more severe in young children, older adults and those with compromised immune systems. People with norovirus illness are contagious from the moment they begin feeling sick until at least 3 days after they recover. But, some people may be contagious for even longer. According to the CDC, "Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne-disease outbreaks in the United States. Contamination by infected food handlers (people who prepare or serve foods at a restaurant or other place) causes most foodborne norovirus infections."
- Handwashing effectively breaks the chain of infection.
- One alcohol hand sanitizer works very well - Purell® VF - 481.
Visually, this graph shows the synergized formula, Purell VF481, to be many times better than Product C for example. Mathematically, taking the log scale into account, it is actually 4,265 times more effective in killing human norovirus. (3.74- 0.11= 10 3.63 = 4265)
- For foodservice situations without running water, use the SaniTwice® protocol together with VF-481.
- Clean shared high-touch surfaces often with a user-friendly spray disinfectant cleaner like Spic and Span® wiping with a single-use paper towel. This product has been independently tested to be effective on norovirus which otherwise can survive on surfaces for weeks. Removal of norovirus is as good as killing it.