Norovirus Surprise. Almost sounds like a special form of ice cream dessert. Or at least, the surprise part might do.
Yet why should Norovirus be a surprise in winter? Norovirus and Winter have long been linked. We know:
• it’s one of the most infectious viruses
• where it comes from
• how it’s transmitted
• how to kill it
• who is likely to catch it, and
• why it spreads so easily in places like schools, hospitals, care homes and cruise ships.
Norovirus is often portrayed as just being an embarrassing inconvenience, so just stay home for a few days and it’ll go away. Why worry so much?
Because Norovirus outbreaks cost a fortune. The published figure for one British hospital outbreak is around half a million pounds! That’s a lot when the health service is so short of money. Combine a few outbreaks and you’ve wasted millions of pounds which then can’t be spent on better care.
In homes where they care for the elderly, the cost of an outbreak equates to fifty pence per resident per day for the next year. For an industry on very tight margins, having to suddenly find that extra 50p every day for each resident means something else has to be reduced. Owners of care homes can’t just magic up this money from nowhere, especially since homes that have one outbreak are more likely to have a second. Then it’s a pound per resident per day. I’d much prefer that to be spent on care.
So should there be any surprise? Not really. From one aspect, a defeatist attitude has set in which makes outbreaks in institutions inevitable; and therefore acceptable. In contrast, those who have NewGenn prevention measures in place haven’t had outbreaks for years.
Let’s look at the “defeatist” line first. They correctly point out that there are about twenty different strains of Norovirus making it possible for every person to have twenty consecutive bouts of Norovirus disease. When you realise how many people enter a hospital and multiply that number 20 times, you see very large numbers. Then appreciate how fast it spreads, the fact that staff can bring it in, plus numerous other factors, and defeatism sets in; you can’t win. There’s just nothing you can do about it. It’s a strong case advanced by people in authority all over Britain every time winter outbreaks of Norovirus occur. It’s the defeatist approach.
Countering that is the prevention approach. There are schools, hospitals, care homes and cruise ships where we’ve organised it so Norovirus outbreaks simply don’t occur. They still have cases in individual people but the disease DOES NOT SPREAD. The prevention measures they have in place are simple, cost effective and form part of a wider caring approach. To learn more, please email me on
Your choice is to be defeatist and yet again clean up after Norovirus outbreaks, or don’t have outbreaks. It’s that simple.
Dr Harley Farmer

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