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A blog from industry experts devoted to public health awareness, best practices, and the role of environmental cleaning and disinfection, to promote safer, healthier public spaces.

Help prevent GI outbreaks November 10, 2021
CloroxPro CA

Help prevent GI outbreaks

Gastrointestinal (GI) illness is common, affecting almost 20 million Canadians each year.1 GI illness can spread easily from person to person, resulting in an outbreak.2,3 The impact an outbreak of gastrointestinal (GI) illness can be significant, both for the people suffering from the illness and the financial bottom line and reputation of the school or business, so prevention of these outbreaks is key.1

Common culprits in GI outbreaks

GI outbreaks are usually caused by viruses such as noroviruses and rotaviruses, but bacteria and other pathogens can also cause outbreaks 2


  • A group of viruses that cause gastroenteritis, illnesses that usually include diarrhea and/or vomiting
  • These are very common viruses and very contagious
  • All ages are affected
  • Outbreaks are more common in fall and winter
  • Infection occurs by direct contact with an infected person, by touching contaminated surfaces, or by eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by the virus
  • Noroviruses can survive for up to 12 hours on hard surfaces, or up to 12 days on soft surfaces like carpet


  • A viral infection that causes acute gastroenteritis, with symptoms of severe diarrhea, often with vomiting, fever and abdominal pain
  • Most common among infants and young children
  • Rotavirus spreads through contact with hands, toys, diapers or other objects that have small amounts of infected stool on them

Foodborne illness

Proper cleaning and disinfection of surfaces can help you avoid GI outbreaks.

GI outbreaks in schools and daycares

Norovirus is often responsible for outbreaks of vomiting and diarrhea in schools and daycares and these outbreaks come at a great cost.

  • Outbreaks of GI illnesses cause students to miss school since symptoms last for 1-2 days and it is recommended that they stay home until they are symptom-free for 48 hours.2
  • Outbreaks can also affect the job performance of teachers and parents if the GI illness is spread to them.
  • Cleanup after a norovirus outbreak is also associated with increased costs to the school due to the additional cleaning and disinfection measures required.2
  • It is estimated that norovirus costs $60 billion worldwide due to healthcare costs and lost productivity.8

To control an outbreak in a school you can:

  • Promote frequent hand washing and hand hygiene
  • Implement infection prevention practices such as
    • Isolation of staff and students who become ill at school until they can go home
    • Encouraging people with symptoms to stay home until they are symptom-free
    • Avoid sharing food or drinks
    • Avoid sensory activities like water and sand tables
    • Limit movement of staff and students from room to room2,3

Routine cleaning and disinfection of surfaces can help prevent outbreaks. When outbreaks do occur, additional cleaning and disinfection measures are needed. This includes increased cleaning and disinfection of common areas and high-touch surfaces and toys, and ensuring that the disinfectant you are using is effective against norovirus.2,3

GI outbreaks in restaurants

GI outbreaks can be caused by inadvertent contamination of food by the food preparers.2 It has been estimated that outbreaks of foodborne illness has an annual cost of $1.1 billion in Canada.9

  • Food handlers suffering from vomiting or diarrhea can transmit their illness to others.2 Help reduce the chance of this happening by promoting proper hand hygiene, and instructing staff to stay home when feeling ill.
  • Contamination with bacteria can also cause foodborne illness. Some of the most common sources of foodborne illnesses include Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria.7 Proper cleaning and disinfecting of food contact surfaces can help reduce the chance of an outbreak caused by bacteria.
  • Foodborne illnesses can also be caused by improper use of cleaners, sanitizers and disinfectants. Specific types of disinfectants and sanitizers are required for food contact surfaces.7
  • Make sure to read the label for the intended and appropriate use of a disinfectant

Prevent GI outbreaks with proper cleaning and disinfection

CloroxPro® can fight GI outbreaks

CloroxPro® has a range of products that have demonstrated efficacy against the pathogens that can cause GI outbreaks.

In Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes (DIN: 02492636), the active ingredient is a quaternary ammonium compound and the formula does not contain any bleach. Clean and disinfect hard, nonporous surfaces in one easy step. Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes kills SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in 15 seconds, plus has demonstrated efficacy against cold and flu viruses, Rotavirus, MRSA, Staphylococcus, E. coli and Salmonella. The product is ideal for use in high-traffic areas and wipes can be placed in areas throughout the building for easy access, and to encourage staff and students to practice frequent surface disinfection

Clorox® Germicidal Bleach (DIN: 02483750) can be used to clean, disinfect and deodorize a variety of surfaces in schools, daycares and restaurants. Kill multiple strains of MRSA, norovirus and three strains of influenza, plus bacteria including salmonella, E. coli and listeria. Note that this product must be diluted (120 mL in 3.8 L water) before use.

In Clorox Total 360® Disinfectant Cleaner (DIN: 02460769) the active ingredient is also a quaternary ammoniumcompound and does not contain any bleach. Safe to use on a variety of surfaces this formula has demonstrated efficacy against 55 microorganisms including cold and flu viruses (rhinovirus), MRSA, Rotavirus and Norovirus. It is ideal for use in schools and childcare centres.

Clorox® Anywhere™ Daily Sanitizer & Disinfectant (DIN: 02495716) has a Hypochlorous Acid 0.014% w/w formulation that can be used in a variety of use sites — even food-contact surfaces in kitchens, restaurants, grocery stores, school and daycares. Clorox® Anywhere™ provides effective cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting power in a one-step, no-rinse, ready-to-use formula. Eliminate 99.9% of bacteria and viruses commonly found on food contact surfaces, such as Salmonella and E. coli. Clorox Total 360® Disinfectant Cleaner and Clorox Anywhere® Daily Sanitizer & Disinfectant are is approved by Health Canada for use with electrostatic sprayers like the Clorox Total 360® Electrostatic Sprayer. This system provides surface coverage up to 4 times faster than trigger spray while using up to 65% less solution, for one-step sanitizing and disinfection of hard, non-porous surfaces.  

Learn more about the Clorox® products that can help you prevent GI outbreaks


  1. Thomas MK, Murray R, Nesbitt A et al. The incidence of acute gastrointestinal illness in Canada, Foodbook Survey 2014-2015. Can J Infect Dis Med Micro. 2017;2017:5956148.
  2. City of Toronto. Management of gastrointestinal outbreaks. Accessed June 15, 2021.
  3. Region of Peel. Gastrointestinal illnesses (vomiting and diarrhea). Accessed June 15, 2021.
  4. Government of Canada. Noroviruses. Accessed June 15, 2021.
  5. Public Health Ontario. Rotavirus (stomach flu). Accessed June 15, 2021.
  6. Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care – Public Health Division. Food Safety: A guide for Ontario’s foodhandlers. Accessed June 15, 2021.
  7. Canada Public Health Association. Foodborne illnesses – what causes food poisoning. Accessed June 15, 2021.
  8. Cost of acute bacterial foodborne disease in Canada and the United States. Int J Food Microbiol.
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Norovirus worldwide. Accessed July 7, 2021.

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