Norovirus, a pathogen that often causes food poisoning and gastroenteritis, was responsible for 18.2 percent of all infection outbreaks and 65 percent of ward closures in U.S. hospitals during a two-year period, according to a new study published in the February issue of the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC), the official publication of APIC - the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.
A team of researchers from Chartis, Main Line Health System, Lexington Insurance Company, and APIC Consulting Services collected survey responses from 822 APIC members who work in U.S. hospitals regarding outbreak investigations at their institutions during 2008 and 2009. The study was conducted to determine how often outbreak investigations are initiated in U.S. hospitals, as well as the triggers for investigations, types of organisms, and control measures including unit closures.
Thirty-five percent of the 822 hospitals responding had investigated at least one outbreak in the previous two years. Four organisms caused nearly 60 percent of the outbreaks: norovirus (18.2 percent), Staphylococcus aureus (17.5 percent), Acinetobacter spp (13.7 percent), and Clostridium difficile (10.3 percent). These results reflect 386 outbreak investigations reported by 289 hospitals over a 24-month period.