On May 4, 2018, the Canadian Broadcasting Company announced that oysters, contaminated with norovirus, have been reported in British Columbia. Eating them caused 172 people to get sick and this outbreak follows one in 2016 and 2017 that resulted in more than 400 Canadians getting sick with the disease.
Not only have people come down with norovirus, which, by the way, is far more common on land than at sea, but it has also really taken a toll on the shellfish industry. Last year, the B.C. Shellfish Growers Association reported that they lost more than $9.1 million because of the 2016-2017 norovirus outbreak. How much they may lose this year has not yet been determined.
But here is what we do know about norovirus. While it rarely causes death, it can be a pretty brutal illness for about two to three days, often causing diarrhea and what is referred to as “forceful vomiting.” It’s this forceful vomiting that can cause others to become sick with norovirus.
Here’s what happens. When someone with the disease vomits in a restaurant, for instance, the germs and bacteria that cause norovirus can become airborne. This means they can land on surfaces several feet away from the incident.
Because these germs and bacteria can live on surfaces for as much as two weeks, if people touch these surfaces and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth, or food they later ingest, the possibility they will come down with norovirus becomes very high.
What is probably the most effective way to prevent this and stop the spread of norovirus is proper cleaning. Here are some of the steps to take:
- Where available, a spill kit is recommended to clean any bodily fluids.
- Cleaning workers should wear protective gear including gloves, goggles, an apron, and cover their shoes with shoe covers when cleaning an area where someone got sick.
- Close off the entire area where the incident occurred.
- Do not mop the incident area. Instead, use a spill pad, cleaning cloths, or paper towels to absorb the material. Then place all of these items along with gloves in biohazard liners. Liners should be tied closed and deposited in a dumpster area outside of the facility.
- Wearing a fresh pair of gloves, the area can now be mopped clean. Also, clean all surrounding “high-touch” areas. A multipurpose cleaning solution containing hydrogen peroxide can prove very useful. The hydrogen peroxide may also help kill some of the germs and bacteria that cause norovirus.
- This should be followed by cleaning the same areas with a neutral disinfectant specifically designed to kill norovirus. Some disinfectants can kill norovirus in as fast as five minutes. And a neutral disinfectant should not stain surfaces, be corrosive, or dull a floor’s shine.
The final steps involve removing all protective clothing as well as cleaning cloths, mops and mop heads, placing them in a trash liner, and disposing of them again in an outside dumpster. If a mop bucket has been used, it can be cleaned and disinfected, as mentioned above, and then allowed to air dry.
Then cleaning workers should thoroughly wash their hands. These steps should help prevent the spread of norovirus and ensure cleaning workers are protected as well.
For more information on ways to prevent the spread of norovirus and keep people safe and healthy, contact an expert at Charlotte Products by calling toll free, 1-877-745-2880 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org