Public Health England (PHE) recently warned the public and public sectors to take action to slow the spread of norovirus. Routine surveillance of enteric virus outbreaks has shown a significant out-of-season rise. In the last 5 weeks, 154 outbreaks have been reported which is almost 3 times high than outbreaks identified over the previous 5 years.
What is norovirus and why is it a problem?
Some people refer to norovirus as the ‘perfect pathogen’. It is a non-enveloped virus also known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’ because of its seasonal peaks. The virus is extremely infectious with only a very small amount of virus required to start an infection. Often an infected person can shed billions of virus particles while symptomatic.
A rather unique aspect of norovirus is that a person does not form long-term immunity to the virus which allows for reinfection throughout a person’s life. Typically, an individual will experience 3-8 norovirus infections within their lifetime due to the short-lived immunity. Moreover, there is no vaccine or antiviral treatment available which allows the virus to spread throughout the globe leading to around 200,000 deaths annually worldwide.
How can I protect my organisation?
In the absence of effective vaccines and antivirals, the best form of protection is effective infection prevention and control. Areas that may have been exposed to norovirus should be frequently decontaminated with products with proven efficacy against norovirus and attention paid to the correct contact times required to achieve proper decontamination.
If you experience norovirus symptoms you should stay home until 48 hours after the symptoms have passed. Additionally, any furnishing, bedding, or clothing potentially contaminated with norovirus should be washed at 60°c and handled with disposable gloves.
Byotrol provides a variety of products with proven efficacy against norovirus for a range of different environments, such as Byotrol Quat-free Surface Sanitiser for restaurants and catering facilities, Byotrol 4 in 1 for facilities management and public spaces, CHEMGENE for human health environments, and ANIGENE for animal health establishments.
Remember alcohol-based hand sanitiser has no effect against norovirus, washing your hands frequently with soap and water is the best way to limit its spread.