The good news: we are seeing a significant decline in RSV, influenza, and COVID across much of the U.S. It is too early to say that we are past the typical winter spikes, but things look to be headed in a good direction.
The bad news: There has been a large spike in norovirus illnesses. While infections in the UK are 34% higher than the five-season average, surpassing pre-COVID levels, the surge is not unexpected as it is following the normal path for significant increase, expected to continue over the next couple months.
Norovirus is highly infectious. It is the #1 cause of foodborne illness but is not always associated with food. A person can be infected with norovirus by “accidentally getting tiny particles of feces (poop) or vomit from an infected person in your mouth.” It is then transmitted by person-to-person contact, touching of norovirus-contaminated surfaces, and eating or drinking norovirus-contaminated food/beverages.
Because of its high transmissibility through various routes, it is critical that businesses have a full understanding of this virus and ensure the implementation of protections, to include handwashing (particularly after using the restroom and before working with food), wellness checks (ensuring that workers do not come to work ill), sanitation (keeping all surfaces clean and conducting disinfection if norovirus is detected following recommendations from sanitation providers), and being aware of any community outbreaks or spread.
For more information on norovirus, or other infectious diseases, download TAG’s Infectious Disease Fact Sheets, or give TAG Experts a call.
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Infectious Disease News
- COVID. FDA panel to consider annual COVID-19 vaccine shots. The FDA advisory panel on vaccines is set to consider an annual schedule for the coronavirus vaccine, akin to how flu vaccines are administered. The panel said it anticipates evaluating the composition of the COVID-19 vaccine annually in June and making a recommendation for the following year. The committee will also consider transitioning to a simplified immunization schedule in which a two-dose series of vaccines is given to young children, older adults, and immunocompromised individuals while everyone else is given a single dose.
- Flu. Cases are, in general, dropping all over (though there are regional increases in a few places – parts of Missouri and Ohio), but deaths continue to be reported, indicating we’re not past the season and its effects yet. Maine reported four deaths attributed to the flu for the week ending January 14. New Brunswick, Canada reported an additional 12 more deaths this flu season with a total of 59 now.
- Measles. It is spreading in parts of India and vaccinations are urged. Cases in South Africa continue to increase daily as blood and throat swabs are submitted for measles serology and PCR testing. Over the past 4 months, more than 300 cases have been reported.
- Norovirus. Infections are 34 percent higher than the five-season average and have surpassed pre-COVID levels, new data from the UK Health Security Agency shows. The majority are in adults over age 65, in long term care facilities.
- A TB outbreak was reported at a zoo in India among deer and blackbucks. Precautions are being taken to guard humans from contracting this zoonosis.