There are several essential things facility managers and their cleaning staff should know about norovirus. These are:
- Norovirus is known as the “vomiting disease.” When people get sick with norovirus, a vomiting incident can spread billions of virus particles that easily infect others
- Because it is highly contagious, it can spread quickly in virtually any type of facility
- Rarely do people die of norovirus. View it as a severe case of flu that lasts about three or four days
- Norovirus germs can live on surfaces for up to two weeks
- It is seasonal. (See the current CDC Norovirus Outbreak Map.)
This last point is vital for cleaning workers to know because typically the “season” for norovirus is late October through April.
With the norovirus season about to begin, Duane Carey with DayMark Safety Systems, manufacturers of first aid kits, spill kits, and other products designed for the professional cleaning industry, answers some of the common questions many in the cleaning industry ask about this disease:
If someone vomits in a school, office, or restaurant, how can you tell if it is caused by norovirus?
You can’t. You must always assume it is and treat it as such.
Must you wear protective clothing when cleaning up such an incident?
Definitely. Some bodily fluid cleanup kits come with all the protective gear necessary to protect the cleaning worker.
Is there a specific way to clean up a norovirus vomiting incident?
Without question. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides instructions. However, some manufacturers of bodily fluid cleanup kits provide more detailed and specific step-by-step information.
Should all such incidents be cleaned up the same?
Yes. The same steps and procedures should always be followed. Doing so makes the process second nature to cleaning workers.
Are there ways to make the cleanup less unpleasant?
Some cleanup kits absorb vomit very quickly. This makes the task more manageable for the cleaning worker and allows the problem area to be cleaned rapidly and more thoroughly.