Cleaning After Norovirus

washing-handsNorovirus is responsible for approximately 21 million cases of gastroenteritis in the United States. Norovirus exhibits symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pains. The virus is highly contagious, which means it can easily lead to an epidemic if not carefully controlled. To curb the spread of this virus, there are several steps that should be taken to limit devastating effects. The following are some measures that should be taken to aid in prevention of the spread of Norovirus.

Clean Surfaces Thoroughly
One of the reasons why Norovirus is so contagious is due to the fact that it can survive on surfaces for several days. This is also true of objects that are touched by an infected person.  Care should be taken to disinfect contaminated surfaces and objects that were touched by individuals with the virus.

Chlorine bleach is the most powerful agent against Norovirus. Surfaces contaminated by diarrhea and vomit should be disinfected using a chlorine bleach solution. The solution should contain a quarter of a cup of chlorine bleach for every gallon of water used. If disinfectants are being used to clean contaminated areas, they should be chlorine based. This is due to the capacity of Norovirus surviving some disinfectants as it is extremely resilient.

Cleaning Carpets
Unless a contaminated carpet is white, then a chlorine based solution is not an ideal option. Carpets that have been contaminated by the Norovirus should be disinfected with a chemically based disinfectant. This should be followed by a steam clean for a minimum of five minutes and a minimum temperature of 170 degrees Fahrenheit to make sure the virus is killed.

Washing Hands
Hand washing is a very effective way of preventing the spread of the virus. Hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and water after using the toilet, before eating and also before preparing food. As an extra measure of precaution, alcohol based sanitizers can be used after washing the hands. Even after the virus has run it’s course, hand washing should still be a priority as the virus can stay in the stool for up to two weeks after you feel better.

Washing Food
Since norovirus is a food borne disease, careful attention should be given to washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consumption. It is also important to note that norovirus is highly resistant to heat. In fact, the virus can survive temperatures as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Shell fish should be cooked thoroughly before consumption to make sure the virus has been killed.

Food Preparation
Washing hands before eating and preparing food are effective measures to prevent the spread of norovius. However, if possible, it is recommended that those infected with the virus refrain from preparing food.

Washing Clothes
To reduce the risk of further contamination, clothes that have been contaminated with feces and vomit should be washed separately. Gloves should also be worn when handling the clothing and they should be washed on the longest cycle that the machine has. Despite gloves being worn, hands should still be washed after handling the contaminated clothing.

It’s often said that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.  Therefore, the above tips should be employed rigorously to avoid an outbreak of Norovirus.

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