What You Need to Know About Norovirus
It’s not only cold and flu season, it’s also norovirus season.
Sometimes called the “stomach flu,” norovirus is the most common cause of acute viral gastroenteritis around the world, and the most common cause of foodborne illness in the United States1. Unlike some other infectious diseases, we can get norovirus time and again, and the average person will experience a norovirus infection five times in their life1.
What are the Symptoms?
Norovirus symptoms usually appear 12 to 48 hours after first exposure to the virus, and last approximately one to three days. The most common symptoms of norovirus are:
- Stomach pain
Other symptoms include:
- Body aches
People with norovirus are most contagious when they are sick, and for a few days after they feel better. So, how is it spread? Norovirus spreads quickly and rapidly, people can become infected with it by:
- Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus, most likely prepared by an individual who is infected with the virus
- Touching surfaces or objects with norovirus on them and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth
- Having direct contact with a person who is infected with norovirus, for example, when sharing foods, utensils with them2
Ways to Reduce the Spread of Norovirus
Even though norovirus is highly contagious, there are ways you can reduce the risk of its spread. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these are simple ways to reduce the spread of the virus.
- Practice good hand hygiene. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and water at key moments, especially after using the restroom since the virus can spread through stool. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol can be used in addition to handwashing.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Immediately disinfect and clean contaminated surfaces with a disinfectant and cleaner formulated to kill norovirus. For example, PURELL® Surface Sprays are effective against norovirus
- Wash laundry thoroughly
- Wash fruits and vegetables when preparing food; follow proper food preparation guidelines
- Do not prepare meals when you are sick2
Whether you think you might have a cold, flu or norovirus, it’s always important to consult a doctor and take precautionary measures to help you and everyone stay healthy.
1. Lopman et al. 2016. The Vast and Varied Global Burden of Norovirus: Prospects for Prevention and Control. PLoS Medicine 13(4): e1001999. Available at http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001999
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Norovirus. Retrieved January 24, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/features/norovirus/