THE FLU AND NOROVIRUS AMONG US
Reports from the Virginia Department of Health show that influenza cases are still widespread in Virginia. Numerous Norovirus outbreaks have also been reported as indicate in the graph below.
Outbreak Activity, January-February 2017
Seventy outbreaks were reported in January, compared to 48 outbreaks reported in December 2016. In February, 104 outbreaks were reported. About 48% of outbreaks reported in January and February 2017 have been due to Norovirus, and 41.4% due to influenza. In 2017, outbreaks were reported from schools (30%), assisted living facilities (29%) and nursing homes (22%).
EMS providers must take steps to protect yourself and your patients from influenza and norovirus. The use of appropriate infection prevention methods and proper cleaning of your equipment and your ambulance help to reduce the transmission of these viruses between health care facilities. EMS Agency Designated Infection Control Officers are encouraged to review infection prevention practices, hand washing practices and proper cleaning methods with their agency personnel. The following resources are available for your use:
- Norovirus poster: http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/content/uploads/sites/13/2016/03/VDH_NorovirusPrevent_8.5x11_Eng_Clr_Concentrated-1.pdf
- Article about the spread of Norovirus to EMT and paramedic staff with a good discussion on prevention strategies: http://www.jems.com/articles/print/volume-41/issue-9/departments-columns/case-of-the-month/norovirus-outbreak-can-spread-to-emts-and-paramedics.html
- All Things Norovirus https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/index.html
- Prevention Strategies for Seasonal Influenza in Healthcare Settings https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/infectioncontrol/healthcaresettings.htm
- Influenza Modes of Transmission https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/infectioncontrol/healthcaresettings.htm#influenza
- How-to Guide: Improving Hand Hygiene http://www.shea-online.org/images/guidelines/SHEA_hand.pdf
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Healthcare Settings https://www.cdc.gov/HAI/prevent/ppe.html
- Protecting Healthcare Personnel https://www.cdc.gov/HAI/prevent/ppe.html