Describe how to prevent viruses from contaminating food.
Most outbreaks of viral gastroenteritis are self-limited so they tend to end or be resolved without treatment. However, certain factors create risks of intense or prolonged transmission that may require aggressive intervention. Whatever the initial source of the outbreak, subsequent viral transmission is often person-to-person, with both direct fecal-oral and airborne transport probably involved. Although interruption of this transmission may be difficult, the following measures may be helpful in controlling or preventing the spread of infection.
Shellfish. Obtain shellfish from sources that are included in the most current "Interstate Certified Shellfish Shippers List." This list is available online at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/Product-SpecificInformation/Seafood/FederalStatePrograms/InterstateShellfishShippersList/default.htm. To eliminate Hepatitis A from oysters, clams, and other shellfish that are harvested from contaminated areas, heat them to 185°F-194°F for 4 minutes or steam them for 90 seconds before eating.
Identify and Eliminate a Common Source. For viral outbreaks, an ill food handler is a likely Source, although water, ice, and shellfish are other common sources. In many settings, employees (e.g., health-care providers, staff of day-care centers) are at highest risk for transmitting disease because of their many contacts with ill persons. Any staff member with symptoms that suggest infection should be excluded from contact with potentially susceptible persons for at least 2 days after resolution of illness. This exclusion is particularly important for food handlers, who also should not be involved in preparing food for the same period.
Prevent Employee Acquisition of Illness. Personnel coming into direct contact with ill persons should wear disposable plastic gloves. When contamination of clothing with fecal material is possible, personnel should also wear gowns. Hands, which are the most likely means by which viral spread occurs, should be washed after each contact. The recommended procedure is to rub all surfaces of lathered hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds, with plain soap or an antimicrobial-containing product, and then thoroughly rinse the hands under a stream of water. Since spattering or aerosols of infectious material may be involved in disease transmission, wearing of masks should be considered, particularly by persons who clean areas grossly contaminated by feces or vomitus.
Use Safeguards with Laundry. Soiled linens and clothes should be handled as little as possible and with minimum agitation to prevent microbial contamination of the air and of persons handling the linen. Laundry should be transported in an enclosed and sanitary manner (e.g., in a plastic bag if the laundry is wet or moist), promptly machine washed with a detergent in water at the maximum cycle length, and then machine dried (109).
Clean Soiled Surfaces. Because environmental surfaces in certain settings have been implicated in the transmission of enteric viruses, bathrooms and rooms occupied by ill persons should be kept visibly clean on a routine basis. Surfaces that have been soiled, especially by feces or vomitus, should first be cleaned of visible material and then disinfected with an appropriate commercial germicidal product according to the manufacturer's instructions. Feces and vomitus collected during the cleaning procedure should be promptly disposed of in a manner that prevents transfer of this material to other surfaces or persons. Persons performing these tasks should wear appropriate protective barriers (e.g., utility gloves--and if splashing is anticipated, a mask or face shield and garments such as a uniform, jumpsuit, or gown to protect street clothing).
Minimize Contact Between Well and Ill Persons. When possible, ill persons should be separated from well persons until at least 2 days after resolution of symptoms. If nosocomial rotavirus is involved, this period should be longer -- at least until the ill person's stool is negative by antigen detection, which may be greater than or equal to 1 week. In certain settings (e.g., camp, cruise ship, or nursing home), the clinic may function as a focus of transmission; persons with complaints of gastroenteritis should be seen by medical care personnel in the patient's living quarters, or at least in a separate area of the clinic.