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Concern is rising about two infection threats which show cases rising at unusually high rates. Norovirus (the winter vomiting bug) and the lesser-known Candida auris (a fungal infection) have been found to be on the increase. Both are a particular concern in care settings and for people who may have compromised immune systems. Read on for advice about the products and practices that will help you keep your care service
In the last week, we have seen many news articles reporting the unusually high numbers of norovirus outbreaks currently circulating in the UK. According to Public Health England (PHE), 154 norovirus outbreaks have been reported in the last five weeks, compared to an average of 53 over the same time period in the previous five years.
Most of these outbreaks have occurred in educational settings, particularly in nurseries and pre-schools. We also know that outbreaks spread rapidly through care homes and hospitals, leading to closure of hospital wards and care homes placed in isolation until the outbreak is under control.
Alcohol based hand sanitisers do not work against norovirus, so it is vital to maintain strict hand washing procedures and apply a hygienic hand rub that meets such EN 14476 virucidal standard for hands and surfaces against norovirus. A hand rub such as Protectus Viridis that meets this standard will kill norovirus after washing hands, or when hand washing isn’t readily available.
Norovirus is an extremely contagious virus that causes sickness and diarrhoea. Known as the winter vomiting bug, it spreads easily and infects people of any age. Sufferers shed billions of contagious particles, and it only takes a few virus particles to make others sick. Symptoms, which can include a high temperature, abdominal pain, and aching limbs as well as vomiting, appear one to two days after becoming infected.
You can get norovirus from:
You can get norovirus illness many times in your life because there are many different types of noroviruses. Infection with one type of norovirus may not protect you against other types. It is possible to develop immunity to (protection against) specific types. But it is not known exactly how long immunity lasts. This may explain why so many people of all ages get infected during norovirus outbreaks.* If you or a child has norovirus, the advice is to stay at home. Do not return to work or send children to school until 48 hours after symptoms have cleared.
Candida auris is a relatively new fungus first identified in Japan in 2009. Outbreaks have now been reported in many countries around the world and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US states ‘C. auris is an emerging fungus that presents a serious global health threat’. *
Candida auris can cause infections within the bloodstream and can also affect the respiratory system, central nervous system, internal organs, and the skin. Candida auris:
Whilst it is unlikely you will be infected, there are certain groups of people that are more susceptible. The risk is higher if you are in hospital or a nursing/care home for a long period, especially for those in intensive care. The risk of picking up an infection is also increased if you have been treated with antibiotics or are immunocompromised. It can be carried on patients’ skin without causing infection, allowing it to spread to others.
Candida auris and Aspergillus have also been reported in Covid-19 patients where serious lung damage has occurred. These patients have impaired immune systems, been treated with steroids which act as an immune suppressant and have had both their good and bad bacteria wiped out by antibiotics, leaving critically ill patients exposed to moulds and spores.**
Candida auris spreads from contaminated environmental surfaces and equipment and from patient to patient in healthcare settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes, by direct contact. The fungus can survive on surfaces for several weeks and is transferred via skin-to-skin contact. Some common healthcare disinfectants are less effective at eliminating it, so it is vital to use a disinfectant product that meets EN 13624 against Candida auris such as the ProtectUs Viridis range for hands and surfaces including wipes multi-surface disinfectant spray and hygienic hand rub.
Lucy Gleghorn is Managing Director of Protect Us Worldwide, a member of the carestockroom Seller community of manufacturers. Protect Us provides innovative disinfectant technology fit for the unique challenges of the 21st century. She founded the business upon realising the disinfectant market in the UK was flooded with cheap, ineffective, and often harmful products. As a mother of 3 children, Lucy wanted to raise awareness that it is possible to have hospital grade disinfectants that are both effective and non-toxic to humans and the environment.
For further information and references on Norovirus: