Tags: Digestive Problems | norovirus | air | transmission | hand | washing

Why Washing Hands May Not Prevent Stomach Virus

By    |   Thursday, 30 Apr 2015 01:33 PM

Noroviruses, which cause half of all gastroenteritis cases and are a leading cause of cruise- and hospital-related stomach illness outbreaks, can spread through the air, new research shows.

The finding, by Université Laval researchers and published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, challenges conventional health advice that hand-washing and disinfection are the best ways to combat this group of nasty stomach viruses.

The research team conducted the study at eight hospitals and long-term care facilities affected by gastroenteritis outbreaks, gathering air samples at the doors of patient rooms and nursing stations.

Noroviruses were found in the air at six of the eight facilities studied at levels high enough to cause gastroenteritis — in 54 percent of the rooms housing patients with gastroenteritis, 38 percent of the hallways leading to their rooms, and 50 percent of nursing stations.

The researchers concluded noroviruses can spread by air up to several yards from an infected person, which may explain why they are notoriously hard to contain and control.

"The measures applied in hospital settings are only designed to limit direct contact with infected patients. In light of our results, these rules need to be reviewed to take into account the possibility of airborne transmission of noroviruses,” said lead researcher Caroline Duchaine, a professor at Université Laval's Faculty of Science and Engineering and researcher at the Québec Heart and Lung Institute Research Centre.

“Use of mobile air filtration units or the wearing of respiratory protection around patients with gastroenteritis are measures worth testing."

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Thursday, 30 Apr 2015 01:33 PM
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