Kid barfs in UK pool, parents concerned

When someone barfs or craps at the pool we frequent, everyone is moved to another pool, big chunks removed and the water hyper-chlorinated.

pool-puke-vomit-1918A swimming lesson was interrupted after a child vomited in the pool, causing concern for children and parents alike.

Youngsters aged six and seven were enjoying a swimming lesson in the training pool at the Dolphin Centre, in Darlington town centre, when the incident happened on Monday (December 14) evening.

Bosses at the Darlington Borough Council-run centre said ‘all necessary checks’ were carried out following the vomiting incident.

That is at odds with the account of one mother, who said the pool was not cleared after the child was sick and attendants used a net to fish bits of vomit out of the pool.

The mother-of-three, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “My daughter was having a swimming lesson and another little girl suddenly got out of the pool and we were all wondering what was wrong and if she was okay.

“After about five minutes, I saw the attendants fishing around the pool with a net and that’s when we found out the girl had been sick in water.

“I immediately wanted my daughter out of the pool and I realised there were two pieces of sick floating next to her.

“Nobody knew what was happening and I asked one of the lifeguards why they had not taken my kid out of the pool.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We follow comprehensive industry guidelines when dealing with any incident like this.

I think my house is contaminated with norovirus; it’s only a matter of time before it gets to me

The outbreak cluster index case was an 18-month-old girl puking all over her bed. And her mom. Case 2 was the mom, who spent 12 hours in and out of the bathroom a day later. Case 3 was the 18-month-old’s grandfather who was sharing a bathroom with the mom.

Our guest bathroom.norovirus-25

The grandfather, known to my kids as Pop-Pop, spent a next night in the bathroom and was still recovering when he set out on a 14 hour drive back to Canada.

I swear it wasn’t our cooking.

Through my amateur epidemiology I think my house is now contaminated with norovirus and it’s only a matter of time before it gets to me.  Even though I’ve hit the toilet with a bunch of chlorine (I went with the 5,000ppm CDC recommends) it’s a waiting game.

Puke and diarrhea from an individual ill with norovirus is particularly problematic as each gram of, uh, matrix contains millions of virus particles that are ready to infect, replicate and be expunged out towards the next host. It’s a pretty awesome biological cycle. Most of what is known about spread of noro from vomit to comes from outbreak investigations. Proximity to the event is related to attack rates (closer to the puddle and spray = increased likelihood for illness). Toilets can also be a source of spread (with a flush comes aerosolization).

In what has become one of my favorite ideas, some folks in the UK are testing out a vomit-spewing machine to evaluate spread of virus particles.

At the Health and Safety Laboratory in Derbyshire, northern England, where researcher Catherine Makisondeveloped the humanoid simulated vomiting system and nicknamed him “Vomiting Larry”, scientists analyzing his reach found that small droplets of sick can spread over three meters.

“The dramatic nature of the vomiting episodes produces a lot of aerosolized vomit, much of which is invisible to the naked eye,” Goodfellow told Reuters.

Larry’s projections were easy to spot because he had been primed with a “vomitus substitute”, scientists explain, which included a fluorescent marker to help distinguish even small splashes – but they would not be at all easily visible under standard white hospital lighting.

It may seem like an idea hatched in a dorm room, but machines like this are important for the food and food service industry.  Recommendations for cleaning and sanitizing after a puke event need to be built on the data that something like Vomiting Larry can provide – do I need to pay as much attention to the light switch or faucet as I did the toilet bowl, lid and handle? There isn’t a whole lot of evidence to dictate practices.

Barfing 101 – How to handle vomit in the classroom

Amy brought up the question of how to handle barfing in class, when one of her students vomited during an exam. She said the student cleaned most of it, but she participated in the cleaning too.

At Kansas State University, students and faculty are advised to notify the custodial department immediately and to avoid coming into contact with vomit, according to John Woods, director of Facilities Services.

“Custodians are supposed to be trained to go in and handle vomit,” Woods said. “We will be limiting the number of staff authorized to handle vomit.”

Woods explained that 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. They turn in the plastic bag to public safety.

Every student’s nightmare? Puking in class

As I was beginning the listening section of an introductory French exam today, several students suddenly jumped up. Desks were screeching and I thought there must have been a cockroach or mouse in the room (both things have happened to me in the past at other universities). But no. A student in the front row was only vomiting on the floor and some of his neighbors happened to get hit. The students were all very cool and helpful – getting water and paper towels for the sick classmate. I sent the sick one home but he cleaned up most of his mess. I notified administration, sprayed the floor with some chemical spray, wiped up, and directed the students to another classroom. I went and washed my hands and facilities came within the next 15 minutes to mop the floors.

But what’s the protocol for handling other people’s puke? When I told Doug what happened he reminded me that if the student was sick with a virus like Noro, the germs could be aerosolized and make the rest of us ill. This particular student believed it was a problem with medicine, but to be safe … Washoe County Nevada Health Department suggests:

•    Staff should wear disposable gloves and aprons when cleaning up after ill guests, especially when handling vomit, diarrhea, or other bodily wastes. It is recommended that persons who clean areas substantially contaminated by feces and/or vomitus wear masks because spattering or aerosols of infectious material might result in disease transmission. Use of cleaning cloths and other items used to clean toilets should only be used for that purpose and should not be used from room to room. Do not use these items to clean other surfaces. Effective virucides should be used in bathrooms and high hand-contact areas in guest rooms such as taps, faucets, door and drawer handles, door latches, toilet or bath rails, telephones, rails on balconies, light and lamp switches, thermostats, remote controls, curtain pulls and wands, covers on guest information books, alarm clock buttons, hair dryers, irons, and pens.
•    Staff should promptly bag and clean soiled linens or dispose of them as infectious waste. Linens soiled with vomit or feces should be washed in a hot wash and dried at high temperature (drier temperature >170º F).
•    When responding to a Public Vomiting Incident (PVI), the area within at least a 25-foot radius should be cleaned and disinfected using the above procedures.
•    Staff should wash hands thoroughly using soap and water and then dry them thoroughly after completing the clean-up procedure and again after completing the disposal procedure.

A teacher named “Koko” blogged that when this happened in her classroom in China, she used dirt to cover the vomit, made sure it was dry, then swept, threw out the waste, and mopped afterwards. She made her students participate in the cleaning.


Puking Myths: How to tell the difference between foodborne illness and the flu

During the holidays I heard a couple of barf stories that were attributed to uncertain causes. At the same time, Doug and I were laid up with the flu for about two weeks, neither of us really puking but feeling exhausted, nauseated with chills and muscle aches. One woman said she had the flu, too … that it came on really fast, was coming out both ends, and then she felt better the next day. I asked her, “Are you sure it wasn’t foodborne illness?” “Might’ve been…” she replied thoughtfully, probably going over the list of things she had eaten. Another friend just got back from Chicago – a trip that she said was ruined by her husband puking his guts out. They thought it was the Polish buffet because while he chose some foods, she had others, and she assumed something he ate was off. Might’ve been. But how do you know when it’s food poisoning and when it’s the flu?

The following list of flu symptoms, which I looked up while I was laid up on the couch over break, comes from the CDC :

Influenza usually starts suddenly and may include the following symptoms:

    * Fever (usually high)
    * Headache
    * Tiredness (can be extreme)
    * Cough
    * Sore throat
    * Runny or stuffy nose
    * Body aches
    * Diarrhea and vomiting (more common among children than adults) suggests you know the FACTS (Fever, Aches, Chills, Tiredness,
Sudden symptoms)

If you have foodborne illness, the FDA’s Bad Bug Book gives a comprehensive list of suspects by symptom and time of onset. It can be a little more complicated to diagnose as some toxins, such as shellfish toxin, can have an onset of diarrhea and vomiting in under an hour whereas salmonella takes on average 2-4 days to produce possible symptoms of abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, chills, malaise, nausea, and/or headache.

Foodborne illness is not usually (although sometimes can be) caused by the last thing you ate, and the flu does not usually (but sometimes can) produce vomiting and diarrhea in adults. Next time you’re puking your guts out, if you can manage to concentrate, you might have to make a longer grocery list of items in your diet. Was it what you had three days ago? Might’ve been.