Norovirus Illness: Key Facts
What is Norovirus?
You may hear norovirus illness called "food poisoning" or "stomach flu." It is true that food poisoning can be caused by noroviruses. But, other germs and chemicals can also cause food poisoning. Norovirus illness is not related to the flu (influenza), which is a respiratory illness caused by influenza virus.
Symptoms of norovirus infection usually include diarrhea, throwing up, nausea, and stomach cramping.
Other, less common symptoms may include low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and general sense of fatigue.
Norovirus illness is usually not serious. Most people get better in 1 to 2 days. But, norovirus illness can be serious in young children, the elderly, and people with other health conditions; it can lead to severe dehydration, hospitalization and even death.
If you think you or someone you are caring for is severely dehydrated, contact your health care provider.
Norovirus Spreads Quickly
Norovirus can spread quickly from person to person in crowded, closed places like long-term care facilities, daycare centers, schools, hotels, and cruise ships. Noroviruses can also be a major cause of gastroenteritis in restaurants and catered-meal settings if contaminated food is served.
People with norovirus illness are contagious from the moment they begin feeling sick until at least 3 days after they recover. But, some people may be contagious for even longer.
Stop the Spread of Norovirus
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.
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.
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.
Wash laundry thoroughly
Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool. The items should be washed with detergent at the maximum available cycle length and then machine dried. Wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling soiled items.
This information comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Click here for more information from CDC.