Because I haven’t beaten that drum in a while. Carl Zimmer, drawing on this CDC report, gives us several tips on how to lessen your chances of getting norovirus (aka winter vomiting disease–trust me, it’s as fun as it sounds):
–Bleach-cleaning: “Because of this uncertainty, whenever possible, chlorine bleach solution should be applied to hard, nonporous, environmental surfaces at a concentration of 1,000–5,000 ppm (5–25 tablespoons household bleach [5.25%] per gallon of water).” Bathrooms, door knobs, and other places where the virus is likely to be lurking when someone’s sick in the house should be on the to-clean list.
–Hand-washing: “Overall, studies suggest that proper hand washing with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds is the most effective way to reduce norovirus contamination on the hands.” Forget all the fancy alcohol and antibiotic-laced potions.
–Don’t be Mister Tough Guy; stay at home!–”Considering the highly infectious nature of norovirus, exclusion and isolation of infected persons are often the most practical means of interrupting transmission of virus and limiting contamination of the environment.”
I’ll just add that the weak link in norovirus infection prevention is low-wage service workers, such as food handlers. From the CDC report (boldface mine):
Ill staff members in health-care facilities and food handlers should be excluded during their illness and for 48–72 hours following resolution of symptoms. Asymptommatic food-service workers who have tested positive for norovirus, which might occur during an outbreak investigation, also should be excluded or restricted per the FDA Food Code (10). Regulatory authority approval might be required for excluded food-service workers to return to work (10), although requiring negative stool results prior to returning to work is not recommended. Sick pay and sick leave policies that do not penalize ill workers might help to facilitate such staff exclusion.
The problem is that many food workers have a very simple sick leave policy–take sick leave and you’re fired. A sane political system would recognize that paid sick leave helps everyone. However, in our neo-liberal dystopia, we prefer that you have the freedom to puke your guts out.
Because freedom isn’t free.