Risk Factors for Norovirus Infection in Healthcare Workers During Nosocomial Outbreaks

Norovirus outbreaks cause severe medico-socio-economic problems affecting healthcare workers and patients. The aim of the study by Torén, et al. (2021) was to investigate prevalence of norovirus infection and risk factors for infection in healthcare workers during nosocomial outbreaks.

A cross-sectional study of norovirus infections in healthcare workers was performed in seven outbreak wards in a large university hospital. Packs (swab for rectal sampling, and questionnaire) were posted to healthcare workers on notification of a ward outbreak. Rectal samples were examined with norovirus-specific real-time PCR. Replies from questionnaires were analyzed using logistic regression models with norovirus genogroup (G)II positive findings as dependent variable. The results are expressed as odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI). Sequencing and phylogenetic analyses (1040 nucleotides) were used to characterize norovirus strains from healthcare workers. Cluster analyses included norovirus GII.4 strains detected in ward patients during the ongoing outbreaks.

Of 308 packs issued to healthcare workers, 129 (42%) were returned. norovirus GII was detected in 26 healthcare workers (20.2%). Work in cohort care (OR 4.8, 95% CI 1.4–16.3), work in wards for patients with dementia (OR 13.2, 95% CI 1.01–170.7), and having diarrhea, loose stools or other gastrointestinal symptoms the last week (OR 7.7, 95% CI 2.5–27.2) were associated with increased norovirus prevalence in healthcare workers. Sequencing revealed norovirus GII.4 in healthcare workers' samples, and strains detected in healthcare workers and ward patients during a given ward outbreak showed ≥ 99% similarity.

The researchers conclude that positive norovirus findings in healthcare workers were strongly associated with symptomatic infection, close contact with sick patients, and dementia nursing.

Reference: Torén K, et al. Risk factors for norovirus infection in healthcare workers during nosocomial outbreaks: a cross-sectional study. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. Vol. 10, article number 107. 2021.