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Diseases & Topics

Norovirus Outbreak: What To Do

Norovirus is a common cause of outbreaks in long-term care facilities, schools, restaurants, and other settings.

The symptoms of norovirus illness usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Some people may also have a low fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people, the illness lasts for about one or two days. Noroviruses are extremely easy to transmit, because as few as 10 viral particles can lead to illness.

Individuals and families can help prevent the spread of norovirus illness by following these simple measures:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Clean up vomit and diarrhea.
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Do not prepare food when sick and for at least 48 hours afterward.
  • Hand sanitizer gels are not effective against norovirus. Only thorough hand washing using soap and water, followed by hand towel drying, is recommended.

In facilities, the most effective measures available to end transmission are to:

  • Exclude symptomatic persons when possible.
  • Thoroughly disinfect all premises where vomiting or diarrheal episodes have occurred.
  • Maintain strict adherence to proper handwashing techniques.

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