Whenever large numbers of people are in close proximity, there is an increased chance of spreading illness. This is especially true in schools, where one student illness can spread quickly enough to cause an outbreak. For the most serious outbreaks, administrators may even choose to close the school. What is done during this closure, and before an outbreak even starts, is paramount in ensuring a clean, safe environment for children to learn in.
If administrators choose to close the school for a limited time, this time will often used to disinfect the school. During this time it is important to use the correct infection control techniques.
The first thing that should be done is to find out what pathogen is being dealt with. Many times we are fighting the spread of Influenza, but other times it could be a bout of Norovirus or another illness. Be sure to use a proper product for the pathogen you are trying to eliminate. Influenza is a rather easy pathogen to disinfect, but some pathogens, like Norovirus, can be much more difficult. Disinfectants with claims against Influenza are widespread and very common, but Norovirus claims are harder to find. If you are unsure about what illness you are dealing with, it is always a good idea to use a disinfectant with a Norovirus claim, as you will get much broader disinfection against a wider array of pathogens.
Just because the correct product is being used, does not mean that it is being used correctly in order to stop an outbreak. The proper procedures must be used as well to ensure that surfaces are actually being disinfected. It is critical to follow the directions for the particular product you are using to guarantee proper disinfection. Dwell time or contact time is a major concern. Many products have a 10 minute contact time, meaning the surface must remain wet for 10 continuous minutes to guarantee effectiveness. This means either applying heavily enough to keep the surface wet, or reapplying to keep the surface wet.
Another tip to effective infection control during an outbreak is to get into every corner where pathogens might be hiding. High-touch surfaces are the priority, but all surfaces should be inspected. This would include walls, toilet paper dispensers, underneath toilets and urinals, and virtually anywhere that could come in contact with a pathogen. A great way to ensure every surface is disinfected is to use an electrostatic spraying technique. Electrostatic spraying uses static charges to ensure that all surfaces are covered by the disinfectant and can greatly increase the effectiveness of your infection control program.
For more information on electrostatic spraying and how it can help in your facility, check out our Electrostatic Spraying webpage.
Another thing to consider is using disposable wipes when disinfecting during an outbreak. This will greatly reduce the threat of cross-contamination and make disinfection considerably easier. For more information on Multi-Clean’s disinfectant wipes, with a built-in Norovirus claim, visit our Century Q Wipes webpage.
While it is always a good idea to have a plan in place should an outbreak occur, it is much better to prevent the occurrence of an outbreak in the first place. Use proper prevention techniques, like encouraging hand washing, covering up coughs and sneezes, and daily cleaning of high-touch surfaces, to stop an outbreak before it ever occurs. This can save significant time and money and prevent lost school days due to illness.
For more information on all things infection control, visit our Infection Control webpage.