Norovirus Cases Tick Up As COVID-19 Restrictions Ease
CDC data shows stomach flu outbreaks are on the rise
Outbreaks of norovirus, commonly known as the stomach flu or stomach bug, have been increasing since January, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
During August 1, 2021 to March 5, 2022, there were 448 norovirus outbreaks reported, up from only 78 cases during the same period the year before.
Still, the number of outbreaks reported during the 2021-22 seasonal year is below the range reported during the same period over the previous eight years.
While there is no data to suggest norovirus outbreaks are linked to coronavirus in any way, some experts suspect the increase in cases could be a result of relaxed COVID-19 mitigation strategies across the country, reports NBC News. While norovirus is not spread by respiratory droplets as the coronavirus is, the increase in outbreaks could signify relaxed infection control measures at a time when social distancing measures have eased.
Norovirus is often coined the “cruise ship” virus because most notable outbreaks occur in crowded areas such as on cruise ships, in day care centers, or in nursing homes.
Earlier this year, it was reported 170 people visiting Yosemite National Park became sick after a likely norovirus outbreak.
Dr. Robert Atmar, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases expert at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told NBC News that the best way to avoid norovirus is with good hand hygiene. For cleaning surfaces, he recommends a diluted bleach solution for decontaminating affected areas.
The key to preventing the spread of norovirus, however, is to stop it from the start. By being diligent and implementing an aggressive cleaning and disinfection plan, you can help protect yourself and others in your building.
Get more tips here to equip your environmental/cleaning services team to stop norovirus before it occurs and what to do if you have an outbreak in your facility.