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[nor-row virus]

Family eating dinner

Norovirus causes an illness called gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines). This leads to throwing up, diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain. Anyone can be infected with norovirus and get sick. Also, you can have norovirus illness many times in your life. You can get it from having close contact with an infected person, consuming contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces then putting your fingers in your mouth. There’s no vaccine to prevent infection and no drug to treat it. Wash your hands often, and follow some simple prevention tips to stay healthy.


Key Facts

  • Norovirus causes about 20 million illnesses, 70,000 hospitalizations, and 800 deaths each year in the United States.
  • Most people get norovirus from having close contact with an infected person or by eating contaminated food.
  • Norovirus is the leading cause of illness and outbreaks from contaminated food in the United States.
  • Symptoms of norovirus illness begin suddenly and usually include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain.
  • Infected people are contagious when they have symptoms but also spread it a few days before and after they have symptoms.


  • Preventing Norovirus Outbreaks video
  • Wash Your Hands video

Prevention Tips

  • Wash your hands carefully and often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing, but they should not be a substitute for washing with soap and water.

  • When preparing food, carefully rinse fruits and vegetables and thoroughly cook shellfish, such as oysters.

  • Do not prepare food or provide care for others when you are sick with norovirus and for at least 3 days after you feel better.

  • Immediately clean and sanitize surfaces that have been contaminated with diarrhea or throw up. First, clean surfaces with a detergent to remove any diarrhea or throw up, then sanitize with a chlorine-based product.

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