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Norovirus: The Stomach Bug

What Is Norovirus?

Norovirus is highly contagious and causes swelling of the stomach and intestines, which leads to diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Norovirus is often called by other names, such as food poisoning and stomach flu. There are many types of Norovirus and you can get it more than once. Though they share symptoms, Norovirus is not related to the flu.

It Can Be Serious

  • Norovirus can make you feel extremely sick with diarrhea and vomiting many times a day.
  • Some people may get severely dehydrated, especially young children, the elderly, and people with other illnesses.
  • Each year, Norovirus causes 56,000-71,000 hospitalizations and 570-800 deaths, mostly in young children and the elderly.

It Spreads Quickly & Easily

  • Just a tiny amount of Norovirus particles to make you sick.
  • People with it can easily infect others, staying contagious from the moment they begin feeling sick to the first few days after recovering.
  • Norovirus can spread quickly in enclosed places like daycare centers, nursing homes, schools, and cruise ships.
  • It can stay on objects and surfaces and still infect people for days or weeks.
  • Norovirus can survive some disinfectants, making it hard to get rid of.

It Can Spread To Others By:

  • eating or drinking things contaminated with Norovirus
  • touching things that have Norovirus particles on them and then putting your fingers in your mouth
  • sharing utensils or cups with people who are infected with Norovirus

There’s No Vaccine or Drug For It

  • Antibiotics do not work on viruses.
  • When you have Norovirus, drink plenty of liquids to replace lost fluids and prevent dehydration.

1. Keep Hands Clean

  • Always wash your hands carefully with soap and water after using the toilet, changing diapers, before eating, preparing, or handling food.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers should not be used as a substitute for washing with soap and water.

2. Wash Raw Food & Cook Seafood

  • Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating.
  • Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly.
  • Norovirus can withstand temperatures up to 140°F and quick-steaming, which is how shellfish is often cooked
  • Don't prepare food for others while you are sick or for 2-3 days after recovering.
  • 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.

3. Clean & Disinfect Contaminated Surfaces

  • Immediately clean and disinfect any contaminated surface with a solution of 5–25 tablespoons of household bleach per gallon of water.

4. Wash Contaminated Laundry Thoroughly

  • Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated.
  • Wear rubber or disposable gloves while handling soiled items and wash your hands after
  • Wash soiled items with detergent at the maximum cycle length and machine dry them.