A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported on the possible transmission of a highly infectious norovirus among crewmembers and passengers aboard an overseas flight. Crewmembers and some passengers reported gastroenteritis during the flight and over a period of up to three days following the flight. Symptoms were typical of norovirus, and subsequent analysis confirmed this was the cause. Noroviruses are highly contagious and commonly spread by contact, especially in closed settings. The JAMA study noted that the illness appeared in those passengers who used the same airline bathrooms as the infected crewmembers.
Use of proper hand hygiene, including handwashing or alcohol-based hand hygiene products, can significantly reduce the transmission of gastrointestinal illnesses, states Sue Sebazco, president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). Frequent and thorough hand hygiene, either with soap and water or an alcohol-based product, is critical to prevent and control many types of infections. Be sure to take time to clean your hands following the use of restrooms, prior to and immediately following meals, and after coughing or sneezing.