Eight Cleaning Tasks Necessary to Prevent a Norovirus Outbreak

Most prevalent in the winter months, norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States resulting in as many as 21 million cases each year and 1.9 million hospital visits. To help reduce the spread of flu within businesses this season, Cintas Corporationoffers a checklist of commonly overlooked “hot spots” to help facility managers maintain a clean environment for employees and guests.

“A norovirus outbreak can wreak havoc on a business’s productivity,” said John Engel, Senior Marketing Manager, Cintas. “Whether you work in a school, medical building, hotel, restaurant or even a cruise ship, an aggressive cleaning regimen with effective cleaning, sanitization and disinfection can help reduce the impact or threat of an outbreak.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies three primary modes of transmission for norovirus: eating or drinking contaminated foods or liquids, touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus then putting your fingers in your mouth or having direct contact with an infected person.

To help minimize the spread of norovirus, facility managers should pay close attention to the following items within a building:

• Door handles. Because they are one of the most touched surfaces in a facility, it’s important to regularly wipe down and disinfect all door handles within a building. This includes doors to offices, restrooms, storage areas, refrigerators, as well as the front and back entrances that are often used by employees.

• Community tables. Whether it is in a conference room, waiting area or in an employee cafeteria, table surfaces are touched often and should be regularly cleaned and disinfected.

• Elevators. Touched daily by employees or guests, elevator buttons can be a likely source for virus transmission. Wipe down elevator buttons on a daily basis and sanitize them at least once a week.

• Community benches and chairs. Because they are designated for sitting, seats might be an overlooked part of the cleaning and disinfecting process. To prevent the spread of bacteria and norovirus infection, clean all parts of the seat, including the bottom and arm rests.

• Light switches. Although light switches in primary areas of a facility, such as the lobby, might be touched only once a day, light switches in other areas like meeting rooms, offices or the restroom are used more frequently and require additional cleaning.

• Employee kitchen equipment. Clean and wipe down the surfaces of all kitchen and break room equipment, including large items such as dishwashers and microwaves and smaller equipment such as coffee makers and toasters.

• Drinking fountains. Drinking fountains can become contaminated by a variety of germs from the user’s mouth and hands, which is why it’s important to disinfect their surfaces – particularly their spouts and handles daily.

• Railings. Located alongside stairs or at the top of an atrium or overlook, railings and handrails should be cleaned and disinfected daily.



CDC Warns of the Rise of ‘Phantom Menace’ Superbug

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently announced the rise of a dangerous superbug, which scientists are calling the “phantom menace.” The strains of this bug stem from a family of antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE).

Because of their resistance to antibiotics, infections can be very difficult to treat and the spread can be challenging to defend against. According to reports, infections can lead to death in up to 50 percent of patients. These statistics forced the CDC to release a statement about the CRE threat back in 2013, when the infection first began spreading. But, reports indicate that the spread has only increased among hospital patients.

Over the years, there has been a lot of focus on the common types of CRE threatening the public, but this new “phantom menace” has proven to be more challenging than others. Scientists have found that it is actually less antibiotic-resistant than other common types of CRE, but because it hasn’t been the center of tests by health officials, the true threats are still unknown.

What we do know is that CRE carries a plasmid, or mobile piece of DNA, with an enzyme that breaks down antibiotics. This bacteria is dangerous because of its ability to transfer that plasmid — and its corresponding antibiotic resistance — to normal bacteria present in our bodies. According to reports, there were 43 reported cases of CRE in the U.S. between June and August 2015, all with the potential to transfer their antibiotic invulnerability to other types of bacteria.

Researchers have found that this mutation is already threatening patients. Reports indicate that a new superbug gene discovered in China has been found in a person in Denmark. The gene makes the bacteria resistant to even what doctors consider the “last resort” antibiotic — treatment used when bacteria have shown resistance to everything else.

Most U.S. clinical laboratories that test for CRE organisms wouldn’t identify this particular type of bacteria because it’s not part of standard testing, but they warn that these mobile resistance genes can spread around the world quickly, silently riding in people, animals and food. Consequently, the CDC has recently changed its definition of the organism to help increase detection.

Officials agree that it is essential to fight these bacteria before a large-scale outbreak occurs. The best line of defense is to improve hand hygiene programs and encourage everyone who enters the hospital room to wash their hands.

Reports say that there is little chance that an effective drug to kill CRE bacteria will be produced in the coming years. Manufacturers have no new antibiotics in development that show promise, according to federal officials and industry experts, and there’s little financial incentive because the bacteria adapt quickly to resist new drugs.

Read this full article here.