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J Hosp Infect. 2003 Oct;55(2):131-6.

Gastroenteritis outbreak with norovirus in a Swiss university hospital with a newly identified virus strain.

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Division of Infectious Disease, University Hospital Basel, Basel CH-4031, Switzerland.

Erratum in

  • J Hosp Infect. 2004 Mar;56(3):252.


We report an outbreak of norovirus-associated gastroenteritis in patients and healthcare workers (HCWs) at a university hospital in Switzerland during the period from 28 February to 31 March 2001. Faecal and vomitus specimens and bottled and drinking water were investigated for norovirus by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) Sixty-three patients and HCWs were affected. 37% of the investigated stool specimens were positive for norovirus. Sequencing showed a new phylogenetic strain, "Basel". There was no evidence for a water-borne, foodborne or environmental source. The source of the outbreak was most likely a patient admitted to the hospital. Once an outbreak was suspected, measures were instituted based on published guidelines, such as isolation of patients and excluding sick HCWs from work. However, the application of the guidelines proved difficult. A first realistic goal in such situations is to limit spread of the disease to other areas, specifically to high-risk areas such as intensive care and haemato-oncology units. Optimal management includes a rapid diagnosis of norovirus, written recommendations for management of affected patients and HCWs, and cleaning of surfaces with an effective disinfectant. These recommendations should be available in written form well before such an outbreak is in progress. Such preparations may limit the extent of the outbreak, but norovirus infection in a hospital will probably spread despite infection control interventions.

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