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CDC Releases New Guideline for Control of Norovirus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new guideline May 10 for preventing and controlling norovirus gastroenteritis outbreaks in health care settings. Developed by the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC), the new guideline includes specific recommendations for implementation, performance measurement, and surveillance.

The summary of recommendations is organized into the following categories:

  1. Patient cohorting and isolation precautions
  2. Hand hygiene
  3. Patient transfer and ward closure
  4. Indirect patient care staff – food handlers in health care
  5. Diagnostics
  6. Personal protective equipment
  7. Environmental cleaning
  8. Staff leave and policy
  9. Visitors
  10. Education
  11. Active case-finding
  12. Communication and notification

Norovirus is the most common etiological agent of acute gastroenteritis (stomach bug) and is often responsible for outbreaks in a wide spectrum of community and health care settings, the guideline reports. Symptoms may include fever, nausea, vomiting, cramping, malaise, and diarrhea for two to five days. Most cases are minor and go unreported, but the CDC estimates 23 million Americans experience a bout of gastroenteritis every year.

“Based on pooled analysis, it is estimated that norovirus may lead to over 91,000 emergency room visits and 23,000 hospitalizations for severe diarrhea among children under the age of five each year in the United States,” the Committee concludes in the guideline.

The Guideline for the Prevention and Control of Norovirus Gastroenteritis Outbreaks in Healthcare Settings, 2011 is available on the CDC website.

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