Norovirus – warning to wash hands as effective defence against the “old foe”​

Washing hands with a portable sinks prior to handling food

It’s the “most common cause of foodborne illness” according to a New Zealand report

With the current and understandable focus on current coronavirus and, to a lesser extent, influenza, it seems that some of the other perennially serious conditions are in danger of being overlooked, according to a recent report on the Stuff website in New Zealand.

It’s described as the “old foe” by the article’s authors Dr Catherine McLeod, director of the NZ Food Safety Science & Research Centre and Glenda Lewis, who is a science writer.

“Norovirus is a scourge in places where the young, elderly, and immunocompromised are at close quarters – hospitals, rest homes, cruise ships, and childcare centres – but all are at risk.”

They suggest that a “mere scrap of RNA” can present a 50% chance of contracting the illness. It is claimed that it is the “most common cause of foodborne illness (over 40 per cent)”, but is underreported on the grounds that the duration of the illness is comparatively short.

A UK calculation makes sobering reading says the article: “it’s estimated that for every reported case of gastrointestinal infection, nearly 300 are unreported.”

Hand washing – with soap and water!

Food handlers of all sorts (examples given included fresh produce, seafood, catering, orchard, food processing or restaurant) must “exercise scrupulous hand hygiene.”

But hand washing should be undertaken with soap and running water – not gels – says the article.

“Hand sanitisers are not as effective as washing hands with soap and water for the removal and/or inactivation of norovirus.”

Tips for avoiding norovirus this summer »

Hand wash units – wherever they’re needed!

Teal portable hand wash units are available to buy.

The Teal range of mobile sinks includes the MediWashHygienius and Hygienius ProWashBigSynkSuper StalletteTEALwashHandeman XtraCompact Classic and WashStand.

How to choose the correct mobile sink »

Teal’s New Zealand and Australia distributor »

Teal’s representative for New Zealand and Australia is Transplumb, supplier of portable sinks, basins and hand washing stations.

Teal mobile handwash unit at Devon farm shop
The Super Stallette needs no plumbing and can be cited anywhere near to an electrical power supply