Norovirus

Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause the "stomach flu," or gastroenteritis in people. Noroviruses are found in the stool or vomit of infected people. People can become infected with the virus by:
  • ingesting food or liquids that are contaminated with norovirus
  • touching contaminated surfaces, and then placing their hand in their mouth
  • having direct contact with someone who is infected and shows symptoms
Noroviruses are very contagious and can spread easily from person to person. Persons working in day-care centers or nursing homes should pay special attention to children or residents who have norovirus illness as it can spread easily in these situations.

Symptoms
Symptoms usually begin about 24 to 48 hours after ingestion of the virus, but they can appear as early as 12 hours after exposure.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramping
Other symptoms include a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. Symptoms usually last 1-2 days. Children often experience more vomiting than adults.

Prevention

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief when sneezing or coughing.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after using the toilet and 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 bleach-based household cleaner.
  • 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 make sure that the surrounding area is kept clean.
Treatment
There is no vaccine to prevent norovirus infection. And there is no drug to treat people who are infected with the virus. Antibiotic drugs will not help if you have norovirus infection. This is because they fight against bacteria not viruses.

Norovirus information for Long-Term Care Facilities