Find out what to do if you suspect you have an outbreak of norovirus or gastroenteritis.
An outbreak is defined as being two or more cases in a 48-hour period of unexplained vomiting or diarrhoea amongst staff or guests or both. Follow the information below to help minimize the impact of the outbreak at your premises.
Five Steps for Action When an Outbreak Occurs
- Contact us - Do not assume that an outbreak of vomiting and diarrhoea is viral in origin; it might be caused by bacteria, for example Salmonella, E. coli or Campylobacter. Contact us as soon as possible in order for an initial investigation to be made. Our officers will try to give an indication of the likely cause of illness as being either bacterial or viral in origin. Confirmation can take a few days as samples of food or faeces will need to be analysed in a laboratory.
- Assemble your outbreak control team - This includes the verification of your cleaning and disinfection procedures and your protocols to ensure good personal hygiene amongst both guests and staff.
- Activate your cleaning ‘Hit Squad’ - Incidents of sickness may occur at any time of the day and so the ‘Hit Squad’ of trained cleaning staff should be available at very short notice 24 hours a day. This should continue until the outbreak has ceased and until at least 48 hours have passed without any further incidents arising. Consider the introduction of a shift rota during the period of an outbreak and ensure thorough training is given to all night staff that may be called upon to clean affected areas.
- Collect information and faecal specimens - When our officers visit we will leave a number of faecal specimen pots, labels and forms for you to distribute to affected guests and staff. We will also require you to complete a Viral Gastroenteritis Record Form D giving details of all the guests/staff who have been ill, their Room Number and when they started to be ill (Date and Time).
Determine the severity of the outbreak - Proprietors of hotels and other accommodation providers should consider whether closing part or the whole of the premises, or phasing/suspending the arrival of new guests is appropriate to enable a full programme of environmental cleaning and disinfection to take place. In theory, a 48-72 hour closure may be adequate, provided no more guests and staff are ill and a cleaning and disinfecting programme is undertaken as described. If it is evident that the infection is going to be persistent then it would be prudent, wherever possible, to inform tour operators and pre-booked guests of the situation. It may be necessary to contact tour operators to do this on your behalf, if they hold the guest contact details. There may be legal consequences of failing to control an outbreak. This would include giving prospective guests sufficient information to make an informed choice.
Download Forms and Guides
Download a series of forms and guides to help you gather and pass on vital information for both your guests and staff:
You are at: www.eastbourne.gov.uk/outbreak