Photo: USDA

About norovirus infection

Norovirus infection is a type of stomach infection that is common in winter and can affect many people at once. It can come on quickly and people may feel very sick, but most get better within one or two days.

Most people have no long-term health effects related to their illness but sometimes dehydration occurs from losing body liquids during vomiting and diarrhea. Very young people, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to be dehydrated and need medical care.

Symptoms may include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Stomach cramping
  • Low-grade fever
  • Chills
  • Headache, muscle aches
  • A general sense of tiredness

How infection occurs

Noroviruses are found in the stool or vomit of infected people. People can become infected through:

  • Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus
  • Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus, and then placing their hand in their mouth
  • Direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms

Good health habits you should practice to avoid infection:

  • Frequently wash your hands, especially after toilet visits, changing diapers and before eating or preparing food
  • Carefully wash fruits and vegetables, and steam oysters before eating them
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of illness by using a fresh solution of two cups bleach in a gallon of water
  • Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with virus after an episode of illness (use hot water and soap)
  • Flush or discard any vomit and/or stool in the toilet and disinfect the surrounding area
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth

For Schools and Child Care Providers:

What to do if you get sick

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Stay home from work or school
  • Drink extra liquids – at least one glass of water or juice every waking hour
  • Do not prepare food while you have symptoms and for three days after recovering