Study Finds Top Cause Of Hospital Infection Outbreaks; The Norovirus!

Hospitals, Infections

I always find very interesting studies regarding hospital infections and outbreaks, and what is actually causing them. A new study published in the American Journal of Infection Control Outbreaks has just been released this month. It studied over 800 hospitals with about thirty-five percent of them reporting at least one infectious outbreak over the two-year period.

The result? Only four different culprits were responsible for over sixty-percent of the outbreaks! At 18.2% of the time it was the Norovirus. In all gastroenteritis outbreaks around the world, the Norovirus is reasonable for ninety-percent of them! And may be responsible for fifty-percent of all foodbourne outbreaks too. It is transferred through focally contaminated food or water, by person-to-person contact, and via aeorsolization of the virus (essentially putting the virus into the area; turning it up into the air) and the subsequent contamination on the surfaces which are in contact with patient and hospital staff who can transmit the virus.

In fact, I have written plenty of posts relating to the contamination of hospital curtains and hospital employee uniforms. These are prime “filters” of air as staff dart in and out of the hospital which will capture the virus, and then be in contact with the actual staff or patients and cause a dangerous transmission of the virus.

Not a surprise, staph infections were also very high at 17.5%. In addition to commonly resulting in food poisoning, these infections cause localized skin infections, boils, sweat/gland infections, and—too a lesser extent—gastroenteritis. Staph infections are particularly dangerous because they can be found almost anywhere, particularly on human skin, and evolve very quickly and become resistant to antibiotics.

The next was Acinetobacter spp at 13.7%, which is notorious in hospitals on moist and dry surfaces. These infections can cause life-threatening infections in weakened patients, and still uncomfortable skin and wound infections in healthy and strong individuals.

The last found in the study was C. difficile at 10.3 percent. This is a particularly nasty strain which can cause serious inflammation of the colon, diarrhea, and other digestive complications.

Even more shockingly were that forty-percent of the outbreaks were in surgical units—places where we expect for things to be the absolute cleanest. One of the researchers was quoted saying that “[a]n infection prevention and control program and its staff should be prepared for all aspects of an outbreak investigation through written policies and procedures as well as communication with internal and external partners.”

But what do you think?! I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at . You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at