Noroviruses are a group of related viruses that can cause inflammation of the lining of the stomach or intestines, also known as gastroenteritis (GAS-tro-en-ter-I-tis). This leads to vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and nausea. Anyone can get infected with norovirus and get sick, and you can get it more than once. 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.
- 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 foodborne illness 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.
- 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 vomit. Use disposable gloves to wipe up vomit or diarrhea with paper towels. Next, use a bleach cleaner on the surface, then clean the surface again with hot water and soap.
- Page last reviewed: March 3, 2016
- Page last updated: March 3, 2016
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