Preventing Norovirus

You can help protect yourself and others from norovirus by washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water and following other simple prevention tips.

Woman washes her hands

Practice proper hand hygiene

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water

  • especially after using the toilet or changing diapers,
  • always before eating, preparing, or handling food, and
  • before giving yourself or someone else medicine.

Norovirus can be found in your vomit or feces (poop) even before you start feeling sick. The virus can also stay in your feces for two weeks or more after you feel better. It is important to continue washing your hands often during this time.

You can use hand sanitizers in addition to hand washing, but you should not use hand sanitizer as a substitute for washing your hands with warm water and soap. Handwashing is always best.

Hand sanitizers aren’t as effective as washing hands with water and soap at removing norovirus particles. See “Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives.

Wash food and vegetables thoroughly

Handle and prepare food safely

Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them. Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them.

Be aware that noroviruses are relatively resistant to heat. They can survive temperatures as high as 145°F. Quick steaming processes that are often used for cooking shellfish may not heat foods sufficiently to kill noroviruses.

Food that might be contaminated with norovirus should be thrown out.

Keep sick infants and children out of areas where food is being handled and prepared.

See Handwashing: A Health Habit in the Kitchen

Wash food and vegetables thoroughly

Ways to Prevent Foodborne Norovirus Outbreaks

When you are sick, do not prepare food or care for others

You should not prepare food for others or provide healthcare while you are sick and for at least two days after symptoms stop. This also applies to sick workers in restaurants, schools, daycares, long-term care facilities, and other places where they may expose people to norovirus.

Clean and disinfect surfaces

After someone vomits or has diarrhea, always thoroughly clean and disinfect the entire area immediately. Put on rubber or disposable gloves and wipe the entire area with paper towels, then disinfect the area using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label. Leave the bleach disinfectant on the affected area for at least five minutes, then clean the entire area again with soap and hot water. Finish by cleaning soiled laundry, taking out the trash, and washing your hands.

To help make sure that food is safe from norovirus, routinely clean and sanitize kitchen utensils, counters, and surfaces before preparing food.

You should use a chlorine bleach solution with a concentration of 1,000 to 5,000 ppm (5 to 25 tablespoons of household bleach [5% to 8%] per gallon of water) or other disinfectant registered as effective against norovirus by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For more information, see EPA’s Registered Antimicrobial Products Effective Against Norovirus (Norwalk-like virus) pdf icon[6 pages]external icon.

laundry

Wash laundry thoroughly

Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or feces.

You should:

  • handle soiled items carefully without agitating (shaking) them,
  • wear rubber or disposable gloves while handling soiled items and wash your hands after, and
  • wash the items with detergent (cleaning agent) and hot water at the maximum available cycle length and then machine dry them at the highest heat setting.
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Page last reviewed: October 20, 2021