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What Is Norovirus?

Norovirus is a virus, that causes vomiting and diarrhea in people of all ages. The virus spreads very easily and quickly from infected people to others. Often called the stomach flu or stomach bug, norovirus is not related to the flu which is caused by influenza virus.

Most people come in contact with norovirus from November to April. Outbreaks of norovirus most often occur in day cares, nursing homes, assisted care facilities, schools, and cruise ships, but can also occur anywhere within the community.

What Are The Symptoms of Norovirus?

A person usually has symptoms of norovirus within 12 to 48 hours after coming in contact with the virus. Most people with norovirus illness get better within 1 to 3 days. Symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body ache

How Is Norovirus Transmitted?

  • Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus then touching your fingers in your face,
  • Having direct contact with someone who is sick with norovirus, such as caring for them, sharing food or drinks with them or,
  • Eating food or drink liquids that are contaminated with norovirus.

How is Norovirus Treated?

There is no specific treatment for norovirus. If you think you have norovirus, you should drink plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration. Talk to your doctor if symptoms get worse. 

How Can Norovirus Be Prevented?

Wash Your Hands

You can help protect yourself and others from norovirus by washing your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water:

  • especially after using the toilet or changing diapers
  • always before eating, preparing, or handling food, and
  • before giving yourself or someone else medicine.

Handle and Prepare Food Safely

Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them. Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them.

Do Not Prepare Food or Care for Others When Sick

You should not prepare food for others or provide care while you are sick and for at least 2 days after symptoms stop.

Clean and Disinfect Surfaces

After someone vomits or has diarrhea, thoroughly clean and disinfect the entire area immediately. Put on rubber or disposable gloves, and wipe the entire area, then disinfect the area using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label.

More information on Norovirus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention