Author: Doug Powell --- Source: barfblog Clemson researchers target vomit cleanup methods in new norovirus research

Ever since that time in 2008 when one of Amy’s French students barfed in class, we’ve sorta been obsessed with, what is the proper way to clean up barf? Especially if norovirus is involved. The previous story gives an idea of just how infectious this stuff is. Two Clemson researchers who are working with the federal government to combat stomach bug outbreaks among the elderly are convinced that advancements in this field could be lifesaving.  Clemson University professors Angela Fraser and Xiuping Jiang catered their new norovirus research project to the needs of residents in long-term care facilities. “I just think that those of us who are fortunate need to look out for those who are vulnerable,” Fraser said. “And this is a vulnerable population.” One of the main goals of their new project, which recently received more than $1 million in funding from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, is to come up with easy-to-implement, cost-efficient and effective vomit cleanup procedures for soft surfaces. The hope is that this will directly combat the high percentage of norovirus outbreaks in long-term care facilities and places with similar environments.  The study, which has funding for three years, will be done in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University and the University of Illinois-Chicago. In past studies on proper vomit cleanup, Fraser and Jiang learned that there were gaps in the research, particularly when it came to the proper disinfectant to use on soft services to prevent the spread of diseases. Chlorine bleach, the most commonly used disinfectant, mainly worked on hard surfaces and could rarely be used on soft surfaces like carpets and couches. One of the areas they realized could benefit the most from this information was long-term care facilities.  “Long-term facilities want to create a very homelike environment, so they have lots of carpet around in comparison to hospitals and other environments,” Jiang said. They also, of course, tend to have a high number of older adults. “That’s people’s living environment,” Fraser said. “Do you really want people to be living where everything is just cinder block or smooth walls?” She said because older patients are more likely to have chronic diseases, their immune systems are typically weakened as well. This means that when these older adults get infected with diseases like the norovirus, there can be a more severe expression of the disease compared to someone younger. Because of all of these factors, some view the study as even more imperative.