Norovirus tummy bug – always the blame game

Woman - arms folded serious
Yeah right, norovirus is always somebody’s fault – and never the person who comes down with it

Reality is, there’s only ever one cause for norovirus.

Somewhere, someone doesn’t wash their hands.

Then they touch food, somebody else swallows it – quick, call the Doctor, I feel terrible!

Accusations, accusations

Your fault or theirs?

Never anybody’s.

It wasn’t me.

Yeah, right.

But make no joke, whoever it happens to, norovirus is always the pits – really unpleasant, the end of the world – and in bad cases, life-threatening.

It’s the end of the world if you’re running a business too.

Lots of fingers pointing – negligence, carelessness, unhygienic conditions – no matter how spotless your place or professional your staff. Difficult to prove anything otherwise.

Somebody on your side

So here’s a little common sense, to help you figure whodunit. Because if it is your fault, you’ve got to take action fast. Norovirus and bad press can put you out of business.

OK, reality again – who did, or did not, wash their hands?

Your customers will deny it, but them’s the usual suspects. Check the evidence:

Uh huh. And if you think about it, when was the last time ANY of your customers might have washed their hands before they came to you? Five minutes ago? Before lunch? If at all?

Now the common sense bit.

So someone’s moaning norovirus. Is it one person or a handful?

If it’s just one person, you can suspicion a mouse.

Customer Zero

Like how come, if you serve several chicken liver pâtés over a day, that only one was off? You’re a business, right? So most of your stuff to some degree or other is all made in batches – it saves time and stops the customer waiting.

So if one of your pâtés was off, they all should have been, right? You should have a dozen complaints about tummy cramps and upchucking, not just one.

And if all the others were OK – batch-made, remember? – why was that one portion different? They were all the same when they went to table, the only difference was the customer they went to. You can’t prove it, but that one customer’s norovirus misery was probably self-inflicted.

Same thing if it starts with just one customer – and then a handful more, hours or days later. Norovirus spreads by transfer. So your customer had his mitts all over the butter knife or salad servers and the rest of his table picked up the bug.

Bad this, because the ripple effect can spread wider. A few hours more and a whole stack of customers are moaning and clutching their tummies. Either by touch, or through the air, the norovirus has got to them and is giving them hell.

A whole lot of people out of action, but all triggered by Customer Zero – the common denominator.

When you know it’s you

Because if everybody all comes down with it at once, you know it’s YOUR fault. Something or someone engaging with your customers is contaminated – they’re all exposed at the same time, they all come down together.

OK, you know what to do – or do you?

Maybe you’ve read about those hospitals and cruise ships where norovirus keeps coming back. The same will happen to you if you’re not careful.

This stuff is highly contagious and VERY efficient at spreading. With violent vomiting particularly, norovirus gets everywhere. It’s a virus too, don’t forget. Which means every cell is tiny. Small, as in, it can fall THROUGH a roofing tile without stopping.

Which means among all the other things it is, it’s airborne. It rides the air – swirling, twisting, spreading, turning – so light that it may never reach the floor. So it’s on the walls, on the ceiling, on the light fittings, and under the tables all at once. In the air throughout your whole place too. Blown around by the air conditioning, the rush of air as people come in the door.

And it can survive in all of these places for up to ten days or more.

Impossible, impossible

So you scrub the place down with carbolic and everything – and next day one of your waiters walks into a floating cell that takes him in the eye. Four hours later, he’s vomiting too – and you’ve only just re-opened after clearing up the last lot.

Or it could be somewhere else. On the maître d’s lectern, all over the PDQ machines. First person who keys in a total – boom, they’ve got the runs within hours.

And if not there, there’s plenty of other places. All unreachable or just never thought of. Brushing against people as they walk through the curtains. Among the cushions on the banquette. Or the one everybody forgets, all over your stack of menus.

How long is it going to take to clean all those places? Can your cleaning cloths reach into those cracks where a virus only 2 microns across might lurk? There’s millions and millions of places, can you be sure to catch them all?

Eliminating the odds

Actually, yes, you can. With a Hypersteriliser.

Press the button and it mists up your place with an ionised cloud of hydrogen peroxide – electrostatically charged to spread everywhere, actively reaching out and oxidising viruses and bacteria as it does.

Forty minutes, an hour, and the place is sterile. No more norovirus. No more repeat infections either.

Until the next customer breezes in straight off the street and climbs straight into the stuffed olives while the table’s main course is processing.

There’s a cure for that too. Don’t put anything on the table until every customer is handed an antiseptic hand wipe, courtesy of the house.

OK, now let them blame all they like.

Ooh my tummy, I’m going to hurl, blame, blame, blame.

You’ve taken the precautions and you know.

It isn’t you. Never, never and never again.

Picture Copyright: brendan80 / 123RF Stock Photo