Norovirus is the leading cause of infection outbreaks in US hospitals
Norovirus, a pathogen that often causes food poisoning and gastroenteritis, was responsible for 18.2 percent of all infection outbreaks and 65 percent of ward closures in U.S. hospitals during a two-year period, according to a new study published in the February issue of the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC), the official publication of APIC -- the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. A team of researchers from Chartis, Main Line Health System, Lexington Insurance Company, and APIC Consulting Services collected survey responses from 822 APIC members who work in U.S. hospitals regarding outbreak investigations at their institutions during 2008 and 2009. The study was conducted to determine how often outbreak investigations are initiated in U.S. hospitals, as well as the triggers for investigations, types of organisms, and control measures including unit closures.
Thirty-five percent of the 822 hospitals responding had investigated at least one outbreak in the previous two years. Four organisms caused nearly 60 percent of the outbreaks: norovirus (18.2 percent), Staphylococcus aureus (17.5 percent), Acinetobacter spp (13.7 percent), and Clostridium difficile (10.3 percent). These results reflect 386 outbreak investigations reported by 289 hospitals over a 24-month period.
Medical/surgical units were the most common location of outbreak investigations (25.7 percent), followed by surgical units (13.9 percent). Nearly one-third (29.2 percent) of outbreaks were reported in a category that included emergency departments, rehabilitation units, long-term acute care hospitals, psychiatric/behavioral health units, and skilled nursing facilities. According to the results, the average number of confirmed cases per outbreak was 10.1 and the average duration was 58.4 days. Unit closures were reported in 22.6 percent of the cases, causing an average 16.7 bed closures for 8.3 days.
Of reported outbreaks, only 132 (52.2 percent) of investigations were reported to an external agency, with just 71 (28.4 percent) involving assistance in the investigation by an external resource. In most states, reporting to the state health department is required and can provide hospitals with expertise to expedite and expand their outbreak investigations.
"It is clear that outbreaks of healthcare-associated infections occur with some frequency in hospitals as well as nonacute settings," state the authors. "An infection prevention and control program and its staff should be prepared for all aspects of an outbreak investigation through written policies and procedures as well as communication with internal and external partners."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released updated guidelines for the prevention and control of norovirus outbreaks in healthcare settings.
- Study finds infection control violations at 15 percent of US nursing homesTue, 3 May 2011, 10:33:26 EDT
- Acinetobacter baumannii found growing in nearly half of infected patient roomsTue, 1 Nov 2011, 11:35:39 EDT
- Study finds MRSA screening saves hospitals moneyThu, 27 Jan 2011, 10:23:27 EST
- Cruise ship norovirus outbreak highlights how infections spreadWed, 23 Mar 2011, 6:01:15 EDT
- Hospital bacteria outbreak linked to nasal sprayThu, 21 Jul 2011, 16:08:16 EDT
- Norovirus is the leading cause of infection outbreaks in U.S. hospitalsfrom Science DailyTue, 31 Jan 2012, 16:30:59 EST
- Norovirus is the leading cause of infection outbreaks in US hospitalsfrom PhysorgTue, 31 Jan 2012, 11:31:20 EST
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Chemical probe confirms that body makes its own rotten egg gas, H2S, to benefit health
- Exposure to high pollution levels during pregnancy may increase risk of having child with autism
- Seismic gap outside of Istanbul
- Personality test finds some mouse lemurs shy, others bold
- Small dam construction to reduce greenhouse emissions is causing ecosystem disruption
- Even with defects, graphene is strongest material in the world
- Detection of the cosmic gamma ray horizon: Measures all the light in the universe since the Big Bang
- Genetic engineering alters mosquitoes' sense of smell
- Allosaurus fed more like a falcon than a crocodile, new study finds
- 'Popcorn' particle pathways promise better lithium-ion batteries