Influenza & Norovirus
Each year, respiratory and gastrointestinal outbreaks significantly impact healthcare facilities leading to increased cases of staff and patient illness, increased severity of illness including potential risk of influenza-related deaths and unexpected financial expenses. The two predominant outbreak culprits are seasonal influenza (flu) and norovirus. It is widely believed that influenza and norovirus outbreaks are more prevalent in winter months due to changes in environmental conditions and in human behavior.
The Clorox Healthcare® Influenza and Norovirus Prevention Tool Kit contains information and resources to help your facility prevent and manage outbreaks year-round and especially during influenza and norovirus season. This kit is meant to be used as an educational tool for both Infection Prevention and Environmental Services personnel to demonstrate the value associated with a well thought-out infection prevention and control plan.
Influenza & Norovirus Season
Influenza and norovirus pose threats to healthcare facilities year-round, but these viruses often peak during the colder months in the United States, falling between October and April. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 80% of norovirus outbreaks occur November to April1 and records show that 47% of the time, influenza activity peaks in February. While there is little evidence to suggest why influenza and norovirus infections often peak in the winter months, many experts agree that the relative humidity is an influencing factor. A few studies show how influenza is more likely to spread at colder temperatures and lower humidity. In dry, cold conditions, the moisture is pulled from cough and sneeze droplets, allowing influenza to stabilize and linger in the air.
Illness costs money and takes a toll in countless ways on your business.
Infectious diseases cost the U.S. $120 billion a year.
• On average, workplace absenteeism due to personal illness costs U.S. businesses $230 per employee.
• Two recent national studies indicate that the implementation of interventions that included surface disinfection resulted in a reduction in school absenteeism (10–15%3, 50%4). For illustrative purposes, we use 20%.
Influenza Symptoms and Transmission
Symptoms of influenza and the common cold are very similar, but more severe with influenza. The infection usually lasts for about a week and most people recover within one to two weeks without requiring medical treatment. Common symptoms include:
Influenza can spread from person to person through the air from up to six feet away, via the droplets formed from coughs or sneezes. Influenza viruses can also spread when people touch infected surfaces such as door handles or countertops and then touch their own mouth or nose.
Viruses can survive on hard surfaces (e.g., stainless steel, plastic) for up to 48 hours and on soft surfaces (e.g., cloth, fabric) for up to 12 hours. Infected persons can spread the infection to others before they even know they are sick. Most healthy adults can infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to a week after becoming sick.
Norovirus Symptoms and Transmission
Symptoms typically last 24–72 hours and people usually recover completely without any serious long-term problems. According to the CDC, the most common symptoms of norovirus illness include:
Norovirus is extremely contagious and can be introduced into a facility through ill patients, visitors or staff. During outbreaks, the virus primarily spreads through close person to person contact, contaminated food or water and contaminated surfaces, objects or substances.
Norovirus spreads quickly. It only takes as few as 18 viral particles to infect another person and the virus can persist on environmental surfaces for weeks. Not everyone who is exposed will get infected and not everyone who is infected will experience symptoms. It is important to remember that even if they do not appear sick, infected persons can still spread the virus to others.