Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that is found in the stool (poop) and vomit of a person who is sick with the virus and causes diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. Some people refer to norovirus as "stomach flu" or "food poisoning". Norovirus isn't related to the flu, but it is one of the leading causes of foodborne illness.
Common symptoms of norovirus are:
Symptoms usually start 1 or 2 days after the virus enters your body, but they can begin as early as 12 hours after you are exposed. Most people will recover in 1 or 2 days and have no long-term health effects. Some people can become dehydrated and need extra care. Small children, seniors, and people with other health conditions are most at risk for dehydration.
People with norovirus can be infectious (meaning they can spread the virus to other people) 24 hours before their symptoms start. You can also spread norovirus while you have symptoms and up to 48 hours after your symptoms go away.
You can get norovirus through:
Norovirus can spread quickly in enclosed places like daycare centers, nursing homes, schools, camps, and cruise ships. When someone with norovirus vomits or flushes the toilet, the virus travels through the air in small droplets. It can stay on objects and surfaces and still infect people for days or weeks.
The single most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of getting norovirus and spreading it to others is to practice good handwashing. To wash your hands well, scrub all surfaces of your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Then dry them with a clean towel or paper towels.
You can also reduce the risk of spreading by norovirus by:
Norovirus isn't killed by some disinfectants, making it difficult to get rid of. Follow these steps to clean areas where a sick person is present.
If you work in food handling, healthcare, or child care and you have nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea:
Do not return to work until at least 24 hours after your symptoms have gone away. Illnesses with vomiting and diarrhea can spread easily from one person to another through food contaminated by a sick person or by touching shared surfaces like bathrooms and work spaces.