Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that can cause gastroenteritis, which is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Norovirus can be introduced into an aged care facility through various routes, including:
- Infected individuals: The most common way that norovirus enters an aged care facility is through infected individuals, such as staff members, visitors, or new residents who may be carrying the virus without showing any symptoms.
- Contaminated surfaces and objects: Norovirus can survive on surfaces and objects for a long time, and if these are not properly cleaned and disinfected, they can become a source of infection.
- Contaminated food and water: Norovirus can be present in food and water that has been contaminated by an infected person, or by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.
- Airborne transmission: Norovirus can become airborne when infected individuals vomit, or when toilets are flushed, potentially contaminating nearby surfaces and objects.
To prevent norovirus from entering an aged care facility, it is essential to have good infection prevention and control practices in place. This includes:
- Hand hygiene: Regular hand washing with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, is important for preventing the spread of norovirus.
- Cleaning and disinfection: Surfaces, equipment, and common areas should be regularly cleaned and disinfected to prevent the spread of the virus.
- Isolation and cohorting: Infected individuals should be isolated from others to prevent the spread of the virus. Cohorting, or grouping infected residents together, can also help to prevent the spread of the virus.
- Safe food handling: Safe food handling practices should be followed to prevent contamination of food and water.
- Staff education: Staff should receive education and training on infection prevention and control practices, and be vigilant for any signs of norovirus in residents or other staff members.
Overall, preventing the introduction of norovirus into an aged care facility requires a multi-faceted approach that involves all staff, residents, and visitors, and a commitment to good hygiene practices and infection prevention and control measures.