Main Page Content

Norovirus (Norwalk-like virus, winter vomiting disease)

What is Norovirus?

Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines (gastroenteritis). It is an illness that usually includes diarrhea and vomiting. You may have a norovirus sickness many times in your life because there are different types of noroviruses. Norovirus can spread quickly in a facility like a nursing home, retirement homes, daycares schools and cruise ships.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Signs and symptoms of the Norovirus are often seen 1 to 2 days after being exposed to someone with the virus and include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Watery diarrhea and abdominal cramps
  • Headache
  • Low-grade fever

How is it spread?

Norovirus can be spread from an infected person through:

  • Person-to-person by a fecal-oral route (e.g., unwashed hands) 
  • Swallowing contaminated food or water.
  • By touching contaminated hands or objects (e.g., door handle or toys).

How is it prevented?

  • Practice proper hand hygiene.
  • Handle foods safely. It’s important to wash fruits and vegetables and cook seafood thoroughly.
  • When you are sick, do not prepare food for others especially if you work as a food handler.
  • When you are sick, do not care for others especially if you are a healthcare or daycare worker.
  • Increase cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Surfaces or high-touch areas may be sanitized using a simple bleach solution you can make at home. The solution is made with 1000 ml (4 cups) of water to 20 ml (4 tsp) of unscented bleach.
  • Wash laundry that may be contaminated with vomiting or stool (poop). Be careful when handling soiled laundry and wash your hands immediately afterward.
  • Stay home when you are feeling sick with Norovirus-like symptoms.

How long is it contagious?

Norovirus is contagious for as long as a person has symptoms of the illness and may continue for 2 to 3 weeks after symptoms have resolved.

Should I see a healthcare provider?

We recommend you see a healthcare provider if your symptoms persist or get worse. Try to prevent dehydration.

Healthcare Providers

Norovirus is not a reportable infection unless it is part of a gastroenteritis outbreak within a facility (Example: nursing home).

If you have questions or concerns, you can call and speak to our Outbreak team at 519-258-2146 ext. 1444.