17 December 2012

Preventing an outbreak of Norovirus at work

You may have heard reports of increasing numbers of people contracting Norovirus in the news. Also known as ‘Winter vomiting’, more than 750,000 people in the UK could be affected the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has said.
The highly contagious bug is known to spread very quickly between those living or working in close proximity. 
The Health Protection Agency figures estimate that some 68,000 people have caught it in the last week for which data is currently available, ending Sunday December 2. It means that, at this stage in the season, this winter’s outbreak is 72 per cent bigger than last winter’s. 
That makes it the biggest early winter outbreak for at least five years and the “bulk” of cases usually came after Christmas. 
The symptoms
Symptoms include a sudden onset of vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Some people may have a temperature, headache and stomach cramps.The illness usually resolves in one or two days and there are no long-term effects. However, if it were to spread across a workforce it could cause substantial disruption. 
What steps can you take to best inform your staff and protect against an outbreak spreading at work?
Norovirus is highly contagious and can be transmitted by contact with an infected person, by contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, or by consuming contaminated food or water.
Reducing the chances of contracting norovirus is, like other infections, largely down to good hygiene. Regular washing of hands, especially after toileting and being careful around food are always a common sense approach and particularly important now.
This helpful NHS link contains an explanation about the causes, symptoms and tips on how to minimise the risk of contracting norovirus.
Please contact Taylor-Mohrs Occupational Health Services on 0117 906 4227 if you need any more information.