Clemson researchers target vomit cleanup methods in new norovirus research

Ever since that time in 2008 when one of Amy’s French students barfed in class, we’ve sorta been obsessed with, what is the proper way to clean up barf?

Especially if norovirus is involved.

The previous story gives an idea of just how infectious this stuff is.

Two Clemson researchers who are working with the federal government to combat stomach bug outbreaks among the elderly are convinced that advancements in this field could be lifesaving. 

Clemson University professors Angela Fraser and Xiuping Jiang catered their new norovirus research project to the needs of residents in long-term care facilities.

“I just think that those of us who are fortunate need to look out for those who are vulnerable,” Fraser said. “And this is a vulnerable population.”

One of the main goals of their new project, which recently received more than $1 million in funding from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, is to come up with easy-to-implement, cost-efficient and effective vomit cleanup procedures for soft surfaces. The hope is that this will directly combat the high percentage of norovirus outbreaks in long-term care facilities and places with similar environments. 

The study, which has funding for three years, will be done in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University and the University of Illinois-Chicago.

In past studies on proper vomit cleanup, Fraser and Jiang learned that there were gaps in the research, particularly when it came to the proper disinfectant to use on soft services to prevent the spread of diseases.

Chlorine bleach, the most commonly used disinfectant, mainly worked on hard surfaces and could rarely be used on soft surfaces like carpets and couches. One of the areas they realized could benefit the most from this information was long-term care facilities. 

“Long-term facilities want to create a very homelike environment, so they have lots of carpet around in comparison to hospitals and other environments,” Jiang said.

They also, of course, tend to have a high number of older adults.

“That’s people’s living environment,” Fraser said. “Do you really want people to be living where everything is just cinder block or smooth walls?”

She said because older patients are more likely to have chronic diseases, their immune systems are typically weakened as well. This means that when these older adults get infected with diseases like the norovirus, there can be a more severe expression of the disease compared to someone younger. Because of all of these factors, some view the study as even more imperative.


Wright’s Farm open again after post-noro cleaning

Wright’s Farm restaurant is open again following a week-long clean up after 30 patrons came down with norovirus after eating there.

According to WPRI a child barfing in the dining room was the cause of the outbreak.

Wright’s owner Frank Galleshaw told Eyewitness News they cleaned and sanitized every inch of the building, and double-washed every utensil and dish.vomit

“Steam cleaned our carpets, rugs, cleaned our kitchen. Cleaned all of the tables, chairs, sanitized everything, sanitized our walls, windows, pictures,” he said. “Then we ran our plates, silverware, salt pepper shakers, we emptied all of those out, and ran everything through our dishwasher two times just to make sure that this place was ready to open up and everything was clean and sanitized.”

Cleaning and sanitizing after vomit events are tricky. The virus particles can spread about 10 feet from the vomit spot and can persist for weeks. Lee-Ann Jaykus and I submitted an issue to be discussed at the Conference for Food Protection about written procedures for cleaning up vomit events to be included in the FDA Model Food Code.

229 sick; norovirus caused cheerleader illness outbreak; don’t barf in public or at least clean it up

Last week, some 300 staff and students in San Francisco were sickened with norovirus believed to have been transmitted by someone barfing on a door handle.

It now appears a similar mode of transmission sickened 229 cheerleaders and cheeries at a Washington state competition.

JoNel Aleccia of msnbc cites Suzanne Pate, spokeswoman for the Snohomish Health District, as confirming Friday that norovirus was the cause, and the outbreak was likely precipitated by people who were ill in public.

"Somebody arrived at the event sick," said Pate, noting that janitorial crews were called to clean up vomit in a restroom and on an adjacent walkway. Those areas were likely exposure sites for the cheer and dance teams, she said.

Some 229 people were sickened and least 33 people sought medical attention for their illnesses, state health officials said late Friday. That number is expected to grow as the investigation continues.

A Comcast Arena spokeswoman said officials had sanitized the premises in accordance with federal health guidelines before a new event scheduled for Friday night. Tests of the arena’s water supply showed no problems, Pate said.

"It’s probably the best-scrubbed place in the county," she added.

San Francisco student barfing on door may have sickened 300

Cleaning up vomit promptly is crucial to containing the spread of bugs like norovirus as 300 staff and students at a Jesuit high school in San Francisco discovered Wednesday.

The outbreak at Saint Ignatius College Preparatory school, initially believed to have been caused by a virus, sent a handful of the sickened students to hospital emergency rooms for treatment of dehydration, principal Patrick Ruff said.

School spokesman Paul Totah said roughly 300 pupils in all, out of the school’s 1,360-member student body, were believed to have been affected in some way.

Extra maintenance staff were brought in to scour the entire school with a bleach-based solution, and the process will be repeated on Thursday, Ruff said.

The school consulted with San Francisco health inspectors, who visited the school Wednesday and ruled out cafeteria food or waterborne sources for the outbreak, he said. Further testing is needed to determine whether norovirus, a common cause of gastroenteritis, was the culprit.

Dr. Tomas Aragon, San Francisco’s chief medical officer, said the outbreak may have originated from a single infected student who got sick in an often-used doorway.

"A student vomited on central doors, on the rods that open these big doors. Then the bell rang and a lot of students went through that door."

Aragon said the norovirus can survive on surfaces for days and is highly contagious.