Noro Virus

Winter vomiting bug

What is the Noro Virus?

Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause inflammation of the stomach and large intestine lining; they are the leading cause of gastroenteritis in the U.S. The norovirus was originally called the Norwalk virus after the town of Norwalk, Ohio, the location of the first confirmed outbreak in 1972. Noroviruses are sometimes called food poisoning, because they can be transmitted through food that's been contaminated with the virus. They aren't always the result of food contamination, though. Noroviruses are also sometimes called the stomach flu, although they aren't the influenza virus.

Outbreaks

Worldwide, norovirus is the leading cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks. New norovirus strains emerge about every 2 to 4 years. Often, but not always, these new strains lead to an increase in outbreaks worldwide. Norovirus infections and outbreaks are usually more common in cooler, winter months. About half of all cases occur from December through February in countries above the equator.
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Transmission

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus. Anyone can get infected with norovirus and get sick. Also, you can get norovirus illness many times in your life. One reason for this is that there are many different types of noroviruses. Being infected with one type of norovirus may not protect you against other types.

Norovirus can be found in your stool (feces) even before you start feeling sick. The virus can stay in your stool for 2 weeks or more after you feel better.


You are most contagious

  • when you are sick with norovirus illness, and
  • during the first few days after you recover from norovirus illness.


You can become infected with norovirus by accidentally getting stool or vomit from infected people in your mouth.

Norovirus outbreaks can also occur from foods, such as oysters, fruits, and vegetables, that are contaminated at their source.


  • eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus,
  • touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus then putting your fingers in your mouth, or
  • having contact with someone who is infected with norovirus (for example, caring for or sharing food or eating utensils with someone with norovirus illness).

Symptoms

The most common symptoms—

  • diarrhea
  • throwing up
  • nausea
  • stomach pain

Other symptoms—

  • fever
  • headache
  • body aches

A person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus. Most people with norovirus illness get better within 1 to 3 days.

Treatment

There is no specific medicine to treat people with norovirus illness. Norovirus infection cannot be treated with antibiotics because it is a viral infection. If you have norovirus illness, you should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost from throwing up and diarrhea. This will help prevent dehydration.

Prevention

Practice proper hand hygiene

Wash fruits and vegetables and cook seafood thoroughly

When you are sick, do not prepare food or care for others who are sick

Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces

Wash laundry thoroughly