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Norovirus & What You Need to Know

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People of all ages can get infected and sick with norovirus, which spreads very easily and quickly. Image for illustration purposes
People of all ages can get infected and sick with norovirus, which spreads very easily and quickly. Image for illustration purposes
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Norovirus is the leading cause of vomiting and diarrhea, and foodborne illness in the United States. People of all ages can get infected and sick with norovirus, which spreads very easily and quickly.

What You Need to Know
Norovirus is very contagious, but you can take steps to stop it from spreading.
Wash hands well with soap and water
Clean and disinfect surfaces with bleach
Wash laundry in hot water
See more prevention tips below.

Wash your hands well

CDC Image

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially:

  • After using the toilet or changing diapers.
  • Before eating, preparing, or handling food.
  • Before giving yourself or someone else medicine.

It is important to continue washing your hands often even after you feel better. Norovirus can be found in your vomit or feces (poop) even before you start feeling sick. The virus can also stay in your poop for two weeks or more after you feel better and you can still spread norovirus during that time.

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Hand sanitizer does not work well against norovirus. You can use hand sanitizers in addition to hand washing, but hand sanitizer is not a substitute for handwashing, which is best.

See “Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives.

Handle and prepare food safely

Before preparing and eating your food:

  • Wash fruits and vegetables well.
  • Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly to an internal temperature of at least 145°F.
  • Routinely clean and sanitize kitchen utensils, counters, and surfaces.

Be aware that:

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  • Noroviruses are relatively resistant to heat and can survive temperatures as high as 145°F.
  • Quick steaming processes may not heat foods enough to kill noroviruses.
  • Food that might be contaminated with norovirus should be thrown out.

See Handwashing: A Health Habit in the Kitchen

Do not prepare and handle food or care for others when you are sick

You should not prepare food for others or provide healthcare while you are sick and for at least 2 days (48 hours) after symptoms stop. This also applies to sick workers in restaurants, schools, daycares, long-term care facilities, and other places where they may expose people to norovirus.

Clean and disinfect surfaces

After someone vomits or has diarrhea, always clean well and disinfect the entire area immediately.

Make household bleach solution

To disinfect, you should use a chlorine bleach solution with a concentration of 1,000 to 5,000 ppm (5 to 25 tablespoons of household bleach [5% to 8%] per gallon of water) or use an EPA-registered disinfecting product against norovirus.

You should:

  • Wear rubber or disposable gloves and wipe the entire area with paper towels and throw them in a plastic trash bag.
  • Disinfect the area as directed on the product label.
  • Leave the bleach disinfectant on the affected area for at least 5 minutes
  • Clean the entire area again with soap and hot water.
  • Wash laundry, take out the trash, and wash your hands.

Wash laundry well

Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may have vomit or poop on them.

You should:

  • Wear rubber or disposable gloves.
  • Handle items carefully without shaking them.
  • Wash the items with detergent and hot water at the maximum available cycle length and then machine dry them at the highest heat setting.
  • Wash your hands after with soap and water.

Information Source: CDC

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