How to Prevent Norovirus

Key points

  • Norovirus is very contagious, but you can take steps to stop it from spreading.
  • Wash hands well with soap and water; hand sanitizer alone does not work well against norovirus.
  • Do not prepare, handle food, or care for others when you are sick.
Washing of hands with soap under running water.

How norovirus spreads

Norovirus can be found in your vomit or feces (poop) even before you start feeling sick.

The virus can also stay in your poop for 2 weeks or more after you feel better. You can still spread norovirus during that time.

Keep Reading: How Norovirus Spreads

Prevention steps and strategies

Protect others if you are sick‎

Do not prepare, handle food, or care for others when you are sick. Wait at least 2 days (48 hours) after symptoms stop. This is important if you work in a restaurant, school, daycare, long-term care facility, or other places where you may expose people to norovirus.

Wash your hands well

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially:

  • After using the toilet or changing diapers.
  • Before eating, preparing, or handling food.
  • Before giving yourself or someone else medicine.

Be aware that:

  • Hand sanitizer does not work well against norovirus.
  • You can use hand sanitizers in addition to hand washing, but hand sanitizer is not a substitute for handwashing, which is best.

Handle and prepare food safely

Before preparing and eating your food:

  • Carefully wash fruits and vegetables well.
  • Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly to an internal temperature of at least 145°F.
  • Routinely clean and sanitize kitchen utensils, cutting boards, counters, and surfaces, especially after handling shellfish.
  • Keep raw oysters away from ready-to-eat food in the grocery cart, refrigerator, and on cutting boards.

Be aware that:

  • Noroviruses are relatively resistant to heat and can survive temperatures as high as 145°F.
  • Quick steaming processes may not heat foods enough to kill noroviruses.
  • Food contaminated with norovirus may look, smell, or taste normal.
  • Food that might be contaminated with norovirus should be thrown out.

Clean and disinfect surfaces

After someone vomits or has diarrhea, always clean well and disinfect the entire area immediately.

  • Wear rubber or disposable gloves and wipe the entire area with paper towels and throw them in a plastic trash bag.
  • Disinfect the area as directed on the product label.
  • Leave bleach disinfectant on the affected area for at least 5 minutes.
  • Clean the entire area again with soap and hot water.
  • Wash laundry, take out the trash, and wash your hands.

Wash laundry well

Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may have vomit or poop on them.

  • Wear rubber or disposable gloves.
  • Handle items carefully without shaking them.
  • Wash the items with detergent and hot water at the maximum available cycle length and then machine dry them at the highest heat setting.
  • Wash your hands after with soap and water.