‘It was chaos’ Norovirus outbreak led to £140,000 deep clean at Lincoln County

When Lincoln County Hospital was hit with one of its worst outbreaks of norovirus at the end of last year, cleaning staff were roped in from all corners of the county’s hospitals to carry out the deep clean operation and rid the wards of the virus.

norovirus.elderly womanTwelve wards had to be closed at the peak of the norovirus epidemic and a major cleaning operation was undertaken throughout the five week period.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust paid out £140,000 on drafting in contract staff and paying regular staff overtime – and bosses say they do not yet know how much income was lost on top of that as a result of the outbreak.

Staff who pulled out all the stops to manage the “chaotic” situation were praised this week for their hard work in controlling the outbreak.

Pam Mason is a housekeeper whose day job is cleaning the offices and educational areas of the hospital.

But during the epidemic of the highly contagious winter vomiting bug, which struck on December 9, Pam was called upon to help carry out the deep clean on the wards.

She said: “It was a case of all hands on deck. It was hectic. It was chaos.

Food safety cleanup

In honor of fall cleaning of smelly hockey gear – and what use is scaffolding if not to dry out hockey equipment – I offer this cleanup of smelly food safety news.

hockey.equip.drying.feb.15Lots of Asian countries, including China have banned Canadian beef after bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) showed up on the same farm as a case diagnosed in 2010. How effective is enforcement of that feed ban?

Men wash their hands less than women.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is going to speed up implementation of labeling of needle or mechanically tenderized beef to 2016. If Canada can do it in 2014, so can the U.S.

New Zealand is going to require child care centers to have a food safety plan when they serve meals to little kids, and get inspected once a year. Australia should do the same.

50 school cafeterias out of the 350 in Rhode Island racked up the most food safety violations. Who knew Rhode Island had 350 schools?

Fancy food ain’t safe food, Scotland edition, the Waldorf Astoria Caledonian in Edinburgh has failed basic hygiene inspections by food safety authorities. No details of why the hotels had failed food inspections.

The manager of a former railway station in Ireland that was converted to a restaurant told an food safety type it was really busy, and that’s why they violated 44 food hygiene and safety regulations. Guilty.


Vomit remains in dining hall stairwell for month; who should clean it up?

Someone blew chunks a month ago in a stairwell between a dining hall at the University of Maryland and offices owned by the student union.

The vomit is still sitting there.

(That’s it on the right, photo by Charlie Deboyace/The Diamondback.)

At Kansas State University, students and faculty are advised to notify the custodial department immediately and to avoid coming into contact with vomit,

John Woods, director of facilities services, says custodians are required to wear gloves, goggles, and a mask. They are supposed to spray the area, wait a few minutes, and scoop the vomit in a plastic bag with paper towels.

Even in Maryland, they probably know how to dispose of vomit. But in a case of bureaucracy trumping public health, the vomit still sits.

As reported by Leah Villanueva of The Diamondback, a student paper at UM, the vomit is in the dining hall building, but dining services spokesman Bart Hipple said, it is actually Stamp Student Union — which owns the dining hall’s third-floor office space — that is responsible for keeping the stairwell clean.

"As soon as you walk through those black doors, that’s where we end," Hipple said of the doors from the dining area by the Gazebo Room toward the stairway.

But Steve Gnadt, the associate facilities director for Stamp, said the student union is only responsible for the offices and hallways on the building’s top floor, which he said are cleaned at least once a day.

In fact, he added, when the counseling center was temporarily moved to the third floor, Dining Services took responsibility for painting over graffiti in one of the building’s stairwells.

"That’s disgusting. I’m surprised it doesn’t smell as bad in here as you think it would," sophomore neurobiology and physiology major Lauren Geffen said. "That’s really gross."

The vomit clause: should ferry workers get double pay for cleaning up barf?

Amy has written before about a student barfing in class, and the policy at Kansas State University is students and faculty are advised to notify the custodial department immediately and to avoid coming into contact with vomit.

Should custodial staff get double pay for cleaning up vomit?

According to KOMO News in Seattle, ferry workers get double pay for cleaning up messy situations in what some call, "the vomit clause."

State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island says the clause makes her want to barf (not really).

But Haugen did tell the Everett Daily Herald other state workers aren’t paid extra for such work, adding, "That’s one that really stuck in my craw. We certainly don’t give overtime to some prison guard who cleans up after an inmate or even someone who worked caring for a person in their home and had to do an unpleasant task."

Who says ‘craw.’

The ferry workers’ union say the clause actually covers broader clean up of hazardous materials and sewage systems, and workers rarely get paid more for vomit situations.

Terri Mast of Inland Boatmen’s Union said, "It could be vomit. It could be blood. It could be feces.”

Snake on subway makes for costly salmonella cleanup

Don’t take your snake on the subway.

That’s what Melissa Moorhouse of Allston, Mass. discovered after her three-foot boa slithered away from under her scarf and around her neck on the Red Line between the Broadway and Andrew stations in Boston.

Penelope the snake was discovered two weeks later in a subway car at the JFK/UMass station.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority decided it had to do a special sanitizing of the car to reduce the risk of salmonella, and then sent Moorhouse a cleaning bill of $650.

Barfing Oktoberfest drunks face taxi cleanup fees

If someone’s going to barf, why does it always seem to be at the beginning of a road trip?

Less than an hour into our final 13-hour leg to return to Manhattan (Kansas), Sorenne hurled up waffles and curdled milk from the Sleep Inn breakfast earlier that morning (but do like the Sleep Inn, friendly and good value) all over herself and car seat. It had been a barf-free five weeks on the road, so perhaps it was inevitable.

The Lysol spray we got at a truck stop seemed to mask the odors, but with 90 minutes remaining, it was strawberry barf.

Today was spent cleaning.

It’s probably too much to expect of an almost-2-year-old, but revelers who drunkenly vomit in taxis must cough up the cleanup costs, according to an Oktoberfest-related court decision published by a Munich district court on Monday.

The case involved a lawsuit brought by a taxi driver in the Bavarian capital following a nasty 2009 incident in his vehicle, a court statement said.

After picking up a Munich couple on their way home from the city’s annual beer festival, the driver said the man threw up in his vehicle, which cost a combined €241 for cleanup and missed work.

The taxi driver attempted to charge the passenger, but he alleged that the driver had not obliged his request to pull over, and had berated him instead.

The ruling, made on September 2, is effective immediately, meaning drunken revelers at this year’s ongoing 200th Anniversary Oktoberfest celebration should think twice before they stumble into a cab.

What do you do if someone pukes at your restaurant or event?

Clean it up.  That’s the easy answer.

Exactly how is another question.  After Amy’s story of one of her students yacking in class, we started tossing around that question and using norovirus outbreaks at Georgetown and USC as hooks. Mayra and I decided to build a food safety infosheet around it.  After reviewing available guidelines from regulators and peer-reviewed research publications, we came up with some steps for cleaning up vomit. 

We based our recommedations on a norovirus-induced vomit (because aerosolized spread of virus particles is likely). 

If you are looking for a cool paper on vomit, check out: Evidence for airborne transmission of Norwalk-like virus (NLV) in a hotel restaurant (Epidemiology and Infection, 2000. 124:481-487), which discusses the spread of post-vomit norovirus (abstract is here).

A pdf of the vomit cleanup food safety infosheet can be found here.