A new strain of norovirus is quickly spreading across the United States. To educate the public about the most effective ways to prevent the spread of norovirus, the Water Quality and Health Council (WQHC) and other public health partners collaborated to produce new resources, while experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided scientific input.
Norovirus causes severe vomiting and diarrhea and is very contagious. More than 80 percent of the outbreaks occur from November to April, and activity usually peaks in January and February. Norovirus is the No. 1 cause of acute gastroenteritis in the U.S. The CDC estimates that over 20 million people, or about one in every 15 Americans, are infected with norovirus. It causes more than 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths in the U.S. each year.
"There are simple steps we all can take to help prevent the transmission of this nasty virus. We developed these posters with a team of partners to make the public more aware of this significant health threat and better enable them to fight it," says Linda Golodner, vice chair of the Water Quality and Health Council.
The two posters feature clear, plain-language directions to help the public prevent the spread of norovirus in their communities. One poster provides step-by-step instructions for routine disinfection of surfaces. The other poster provides directions to properly clean and disinfect surfaces following a vomiting or diarrhea incident. The posters, prepared by WQHC, CDC, National Environmental Health Association, New Jersey Somerset County Health Department and the American Chemistry Council, emphasize the use of a chlorine bleach solution to properly disinfect surfaces.
"When it comes to prevention of norovirus, proper surface disinfection should always be part of the strategy. As always, people should wash their hands often with soap and water. Contaminated surfaces should be thoroughly disinfected with a chlorine bleach-based household cleaner or bleach solution wherever possible," says Dr. Aron Hall , an epidemiologist specializing in norovirus in the CDC's Division of Viral Diseases.
The posters are being made available to nursing homes, schools, daycare centers, workplaces and other locations where norovirus can quickly spread. To inform long-term care facilities of proper disinfecting procedures, the National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration in Long Term Care (NADONA) has already provided nearly 3,000 posters to their member facilities across the country.
"Long-term care facilities are committed to keeping their residents healthy. These posters are a useful tool that will allow staff at our facilities to take simple disinfecting steps that can help prevent the spread of the norovirus," says Sherrie Dornberger, RN and NADONA executive director.
Copies of the norovirus prevention and disinfection posters are available by visiting http://www.disinfect-for-health.org/resources. They are freely available for download in English or Spanish, color or black-and-white, large (11"x17") or small (8.5"x11").
The Water Quality & Health Council (WQHC) is a body of independent scientific experts, health professionals and consumer advocates who serve as advisors to the Chlorine Chemistry Division of the American Chemistry Council, an industry trade association.