Protecting your home and community

Preventing Norovirus Infection

It’s not just passengers on cruises that get sick with norovirus!

A photo of a toiletNoroviruses are estimated to be responsible for 49 percent of all foodborne illness. It is miserable to have, easy to transmit, and requires a few simple actions to prevent.   Norovirus is a highly contagious virus. Norovirus infection causes gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines). This leads to diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain.


Noroviruses are highly contagious.


A person with norovirus infection can shed billions of norovirus particles. But, it only takes as few as 18 viral particles to infect another person.


You should not prepare food for others or provide healthcare while you are sick and for at least 2 to 3 days after you recover.   This also applies to sick workers in settings such as schools and daycares where they may expose people to norovirus. Information about norovirus and health care workers is below.   Don't get others sickMany local and state health departments require that food handlers and preparers with norovirus illness not work until at least 2 to 3 days after they recover. If you were recently sick, you can be given different duties in the restaurant, such as working at a cash register or hosting.   Norovirus, which is often called “stomach flu,” or “food poisoning” 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. [Note: although gastrointestinal illness is often called “stomach flu, it is unrelated to influenza]   The most important thing you can do to protect yourself from a Norovirus infection is to practice proper hygiene.   Handwashing is like a “do-it-yourself” vaccine—it involves five simple and effective steps (think Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry) you can take to reduce the spread of diarrheal and respiratory illness so you can stay healthy. Regular handwashing, particularly before and after certain activities, is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others.

Washing Hands instructions

For the science behind why handwashing is important, go here.

Whether you are at home, at work, traveling, or already sick, find out how good hand hygiene can protect you, your family, and others.

Safety steps

a photo of a bag of groceries

  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing. But, they should not be used as a substitute for washing with soap and water.
  • 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.
  • Be aware that noroviruses are relatively resistant. They 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.
  • Keep sick infants and children out of areas where food is being handled and prepared.
  • When you are sick, do not prepare food or care for others who are sick
  • After throwing up or having diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces. Use a chlorine bleach solution with a concentration of 1000–5000 ppm (5–25 tablespoons of household bleach [5.25%] 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)
  • Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool (feces).
  • 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.

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Confession Bear: I had the runs today-cooked many burgers

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