Norovirus took the top spot for infection outbreaks in U.S. hospitals from 2008 to 2009 and was responsible for most department closures as well, a study finds.
Researchers looked at 822 survey results from hospitals around the country that reported on outbreak investigations, what triggered them and how they were controlled.
In the two years of the study there were 386 outbreak investigations that 289 hospitals reported. Outbreak investigations were most often located in medical or surgical intensive care units, and almost a third took place in locations such as rehab units, emergency departments, skilled nursing facilities and long-term acute care hospitals. In 344 of the 386 investigations, identifying an unusual organism was the most frequent trigger.
Four organisms caused the majority of outbreaks (almost 60%): norovirus, which causes severe gastroenteritis (18.2%), Staphylococcus aureus, or staph, a bacterium that can cause food poisoning, pneumonia and skin infections (17.5%), Acinetobacter spp, a bacterium common in hospitals (13.7%), and Clostridium difficile or C. difficile, a bacterium that can cause colon inflammation and diarrhea (10.3%).