Norovirus

Overview

You may hear it called the “stomach flu.” Norovirus is a very contagious viral illness. It often spreads from person to person through contaminated food and surfaces.

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps and fever. They appear 12 to 36 hours after exposure and often go away within a few days. Many people are contagious before they show symptoms. The virus can stay in feces for several weeks. Most people will get it several times in their life.

Help prevent it.

Pregnant women, children, elderly and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk. Take time to educate high-risk people about food safety and hygiene.

Coach people to wash their hands properly and frequently. This means 10-15 seconds of scrubbing hands, underneath fingernails, and in-between fingers with soap. Use disposable paper towels when possible.

Inform folks to clean and sanitize surfaces thoroughly, especially when an ill person was present. The surfaces that they should focus on are those that will touch food or food equipment and high-touch.

To learn more about norovirus prevention when cleaning up vomit or poop, please watch this short video.

Encourage people to stay home when they’re sick, especially if they work with high-risk patients or food. Sick people should avoid making food for others when possible, including those in their household.

If you have a person with norovirus symptoms:

  • Ask them to provide a stool sample to identify the cause.
  • Report positive stool sample results by calling 360-728-2235 and by faxing lab results to (360) 813-1168.

Stool sample information helps us identify causes and minimize future illness.

Report more than 1 suspected case of norovirus.

If you know of a school, childcare center, nursing home or healthcare facility has more than one suspected case of norovirus:

  • Report by calling the reporting line at (360) 728-2235 or fax the reporting form to (360) 813-1168.

Norovirus Toolkit for Schools and Childcare

Controlling Norovirus

Information for schools and childcare on halting the spread of norovirus.

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Norovirus Cleaning Information

Always wear personal protective equipment and clean up visible debris before disinfecting. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other chemicals.

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Norovirus Communication Tools

Sample newsletter article and letters for parents about norovirus outbreak.

English LetterSpanish LetterNewsletter Article

More Resources

CDC Norovirus Site

Clinical overview of norovirus and information on laboratory diagnosis and treatment.