Commonly referred to as norovirus or viral gastroenteritis, Norwalk is an infectious virus that is transferred through infected people, contaminated food or water, or by coming in contact with contaminated surfaces, the more knowledge that one has regarding norovirus, the more likely they are to take the proper steps to protect themselves and others from contracting the virus. The virus results in stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea. Young children and seniors are most at risk. Taking precautions to prevent norovirus breakouts is especially important for senior living facilities, schools, hospitals and long term care facilities. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, norovirus ranks as the highest cause of foodborne diseases in the United States.
Here are some tips to ensure that your facility takes the necessary steps to protect all visitors and staff that visit your establishment.
- Wash your hands regularly
As with any infection, handwashing ranks at the top of the prevention list. Making sure to provide signage can go a long way in educating and ensuring visitors and staff of the building engage in thorough handwashing. Having hand sanitizers in various areas around the building can also contribute to breakout prevention when handwashing is not a possibility.
- Prevent Cross-Contamination
Food preparation areas should always be routinely cleaned and sanitized to eliminate the spread of harmful bacteria. Implement a routine cleaning program that is tailored to your kitchen’s needs can drastically reduce foodborne illnesses.
- Educate and Inform
Make sure those within the facility are educated and are aware of the symptoms of Norovirus. This will ensure that they remain at home and isolated from others for the duration of their illness so as not to infect others. Presenteeism will not only reduce productivity and efficiency but will also put others at risk.
- Disinfection of Critical Touch Points
Since norovirus spreads through contact with contaminated surfaces, regular disinfection of high touch points should be a priority. Critical touch points include door handles, keyboards, phones, light switches, railings, elevators and other surfaces that are touched by several people on a daily basis.
As the cool weather sets in, keep your facility and those within it healthy by taking the necessary steps to prevent Norwalk virus from spreading. Knowing how a virus spreads is the most important way to begin your plan to prevent infection. Tailor your cleaning and disinfection program to ensure that all areas are routinely addressed to avoid breakouts.