School’s and Super Spreaders
As you will be only too well aware children in a closed community, such as a school, have an incredible capability for spreading “germs” between themselves, their families and school staff, and are often considered to be “Super Spreaders”. This is usually because of the close contact children will have with their school friends, their lack of awareness of their health, and sometimes their questionable hygiene standards.
Experience has shown that returning to school after an extended break in the close proximity of their families children may often be carrying infections that they have acquired from family members, or other close contacts.
These infections may be easily transmitted, and depending on the child’s age, may be such that they have no or limited immunity to them. These infections may include viral gastroenteritis/Norovirus; respiratory infections such as influenza, whooping cough, etc.; hand, foot and mouth disease, and many other communicable infections, with lesser or greater consequences.
The Biggest Problem
Probably the most disruptive infectious agent is Norovirus. Norovirus outbreaks can occur in any setting where groups of people gather together, e.g. nursing/care homes, schools, hospitals, hotels, etc. Norovirus can have a significant impact on school activity and functionality. It is therefore very important to recognise cases promptly in order to prevent an outbreak and to control it once it occurs.
Norovirus is very infectious and only a small exposure is needed to cause symptoms. If you have children or staff who develop a sudden onset of diarrhoea and/or vomiting or have been in contact with symptomatic family members or friends, please bear this in mind and ensure that the necessary infection control measures, especially thorough hand washing and environmental cleaning, have been taken. In fact these measures should be adopted pro-actively, not waiting for the problem to arise.
There is much you and your staff can do to help limit further spread of Norovirus including remembering and applying the following key points:
- Most people affected by Norovirus make a full recovery within one or two days but should be excluded for two days after last symptomatic to guard against a relapse.
- The virus is easily spread from person to person therefore individuals should wash their hands thoroughly with liquid soap and water after contact with an affected person or environment
- Thorough cleaning with detergent-based cleaning solutions should be adequate pro-actively, however, in the event of an outbreak decontamination with specific disinfectants are recommended
Whilst all these infections may be transmitted directly from person to person, e.g. droplets by sneezing, direct contact, etc. a residual problem may persist through contamination of contact surfaces, e.g. desks, door handles, switches, etc. Accordingly, it is essential that high standards of cleaning are maintained, as well as teaching the children to wash their hands effectively on a regular basis, and especially after using the toilet facilities and before eating and drinking.
A copy of the NPSA “How To” Hand washing poster, which can be used to educate children and staff in the correct techniques of hand washing is available here
CK Group are experienced in combating outbreaks through decontamination, whilst also providing thorough daily cleaning schedules to help prevent the spread of illness. If you are having any problems with outbreaks in schools, please contact us on 0208 659 6748 or use the form on our contact page, to find out what CK Group Services can do for you.