CDC guidelines aim to stop norovirus spread in healthcare

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), working with members of hospitals and healthcare organizations across the country, has issued new guidelines to prevent and control outbreaks of norovirus gastroenteritis specifically within healthcare settings.

The CDC notes that several states have developed guidelines to assist both healthcare institutions and communities on preventing the transmission of norovirus infections. These guidelines, though, focus on what healthcare organizations can do to stop outbreaks.

The guidelines--developed by CDC's Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee--are intended for use by infection prevention staff, physicians, healthcare epidemiologists, healthcare administrators, nurses, other healthcare providers and individuals responsible for developing infection prevention and control programs for healthcare settings.

The guidelines include recommendations related to patient cohorting and isolation precautions, hand hygiene, patient transfer and ward closure, indirect patient care staff, diagnostics, personal protective equipment, environmental cleaning, staff leave, visitors, education, and communication.

The CDC guidelines state, however, that the literature review revealed that many of the studies addressing strategies to prevent norovirus gastroenteritis outbreaks in healthcare facilities were not "of sufficient quality" to draw firm conclusions about various interventions.

The CDC says future studies are needed in such areas as comparing norovirus strains--focusing on the differences in their survival and persistence after cleaning and disinfection--and assessing healthcare-focused risk factors such as the duration of patient isolation and hand hygiene policies during outbreaks of norovirus.

For more details:
- see the CDC guidelines (.pdf)
- view AHA News Now article