Tips to Protect Yourself from Norovirus

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Woman Stomach Ache

If you have never been sick with norovirus, chances are you will. In fact, norovirus is so common that most people will get sick with it several times during their life.

The symptoms of norovirus can be miserable and include diarrhea, throwing up, nausea, and stomach pain. Most people who get sick with the virus get better within 1 to 3 days, but it can lead to dehydration or more serious illness, especially in young children and older adults.

Every year, 19 to 21 million people get sick with diarrhea and vomiting caused by norovirus. Norovirus season in the United States peaks in the winter months, although you can get sick at any time during the year.

You can get sick with norovirus by having contact with a sick person, eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus, or touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus then putting your fingers in your mouth.

Norovirus spreads quickly, especially in places like daycare centers, nursing homes, schools, and cruise ships.  A tiny amount of the virus on your food or hands is enough to make you sick.

Currently there’s no vaccine to prevent getting sick from norovirus. However, there are some steps you can take to help protect yourself and others:

  1. Wash your hands carefully with soap and water

Wash your hands carefully with soap and water—

  • especially after using the toilet and changing diapers, and
  • always before eating, preparing, or handling food.

Noroviruses can be found in your vomit or stool even before you start feeling sick. The virus can stay in your stool for 2 weeks or more after you feel better. So, it is important to continue washing your hands often during this time.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing. However, they should not be used as a substitute for washing with soap and water.

  1. When you are sick, do not prepare food or care for othersnorovirus_a580px

You should not prepare food for others or provide care while you are sick and for at least two days after symptoms stop. This also applies to sick workers in settings such as schools and daycares where they may expose people to norovirus.

  1. Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces

After throwing up or having diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces using an appropriate disinfectant. Learn how to make a bleach solution that can kill norovirus.

  1. Wash fruits and vegetables, and cook seafood thoroughly

Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them. Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them. Norovirus can survive temperatures as high as 140°F and quick steaming processes that are often used for cooking shellfish. Food that might be contaminated with norovirus should be thrown out.

  1. Wash laundry thoroughly

Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool. You should

  • handle soiled items carefully without agitating them,
  • wear rubber or disposable gloves while handling soiled items and wash your hands after, and
  • wash the items with detergent at the maximum available cycle length then machine dry them.

Following these steps can help protect you and other people from norovirus this season.

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One comment on “Tips to Protect Yourself from Norovirus”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    Proper hand hygiene is a serious issue. It is well known that many healthcare providers do not clean their hands correctly. This goes from MD’s to Nurses, Techs, Housekeeping, and Food Prep.

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Page last reviewed: February 28, 2017
Page last updated: February 28, 2017