Norovirus season is here - but you can avoid getting sick

WPVI logo
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
This image from a microscope shows norovirus.
This image from a microscope shows norovirus.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The CDC says it clearly: "Norovirus is a very contagious virus that can infect anyone. You can get it from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces."

It is one of those illnesses you never forget, if you've had it.

A Philadelphia family told Action News that 10 of its members were sick with the bug on a cruise ship.

However, most occurrences are on land - in schools, workplaces, or other spots where people are in close proximity.

While the viral illness lacks in duration, it makes up for in misery.

Norovirus often comes on suddenly. Your body seems out of control, with stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting.

The virus inflames the stomach, intestines or both.

Most people will rebound in about 24-48 hours, however, for young children and older adults, it can become a serious problem, due to the dehydration it causes.

Here's what you need to know to avoid the misery.


1. The number one measure: Wash your hands carefully with soap and water.

*Especially after using the toilet and changing diapers

*ALWAYS before eating, preparing, or handling food.

Noroviruses can be found in your vomit or stool even before you start feeling sick, and it can stay in your gut for 2 weeks or more after you feel better.

Don't back off on hand-washing when you start feeling better.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are NOT a substitute for washing your hands with soap, so keep washing.

2. Wash fruits and vegetables carefully and cook seafood thoroughly

Noroviruses can survive temperatures as high as 140F and quick steaming processes that are often used for cooking shellfish.

3. Keep sick infants and children out of the kitchen, and when you are sick, don't prepare food or care for others. Don't make food or provide care for others till at least 2 days after your symptoms stop.

4. Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately.

Use a chlorine bleach solution with a concentration of 1000-5000 ppm (5-25 tablespoons of household bleach per gallon of water) or other disinfectant registered as effective against norovirus by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

5. Wash laundry thoroughly

* Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated.

* Handle soiled items carefully without agitating them, wear rubber or disposable gloves while handling soiled items.

* Wash the items with detergent at the maximum available cycle length then machine dry them.

* Wash your hands afterward

Got 2 minutes? Watch a video explaining norovirus, and how to keep it out of your life - click here.