Norovirus Illness Can Be Serious
- Norovirus is a highly contagious illness caused by infection with a virus called norovirus. It is often called by other names, such as viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu, and food poisoning.
- Norovirus infection causes acute gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines); the most common symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain.
- Anyone can get norovirus, and they can have the illness multiple times during their lifetime.
- Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States.
Stop the Spread of Norovirus
- Norovirus can make people feel extremely ill and vomit or have diarrhea many times a day.
- Most people get better within 1 to 2 days.
- Dehydration can be a problem among some people with norovirus infection, especially the very young, the elderly, and people with other illnesses.
- Practice proper hand hygiene
Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers and always before eating or preparing food. If soap and water aren't available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. These alcohol-based products can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but they are not a substitute for washing with soap and water.
- Take care in the kitchen
Carefully wash fruits and vegetables, and cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them.
- Do not prepare food while infected
People with norovirus illness should not prepare food for others while they have symptoms and for 3 days after they recover from their illness (see Norovirus: Food Handlers).
- Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces
After throwing up or having diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces by using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label. If no such cleaning product is available, you can use a solution made with 5 tablespoons to 1.5 cups of household bleach per 1 gallon of water.
- Wash laundry thoroughly
Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool. Handle soiled items carefully—without agitating them—to avoid spreading virus. If available, wear rubber or disposable gloves while handling soiled clothing or linens and wash your hands after handling. The items should be washed with detergent at the maximum available cycle length and then machine dried.
Learn more about preventing the spread of norovirus.
Norovirus is Highly Contagious and Spreads Rapidly
- Noroviruses are highly contagious, and outbreaks are common due to the ease of transmission.
- People with norovirus are contagious from the moment they begin feeling ill to at least 3 days and perhaps for as long as 2 weeks after recovery, making control of this disease even more difficult.
- Norovirus can spread rapidly in closed environments like daycare centers and nursing homes.
Fact Sheets from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Norovirus: Facts for Food Handlers
Norovirus in Health Care Facilities Fact Sheet
New CDC Toolkit for Responding to Norovirus Outbreaks in Healthcare Settings