Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. Norovirus causes what is known as the "stomach flu." People with norovirus can shed billions of norovirus particles, and it only takes a few virus particles to make others sick. This virus can spread rapidly through daycares, long term care facilities, and other congregate facilities. You can get norovirus from:

  • Having direct contact with an infected person
  • Consuming contaminated food or water
  • Touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your mouth with unwashed hands

There is no specific medicine to treat people with norovirus. If you have norovirus, you should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost from vomiting and diarrhea.


The most common symptoms of norovirus are:

  • Diarrhea


  • Vomiting


  • Nausea


  • Stomach Pain

    Stomach Pain

Other norovirus symptoms may include:

  • Fever


  • Body Aches

    Body Aches

A person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus. Most people with the virus get better within 1 to 3 days. Due to the symptoms associated with norovirus, it is very easy to become dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Decrease in urination
  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Feeling dizzy when standing up


Norovirus spreads through contaminated food. Norovirus can easily contaminate food because it only takes a very small amount of virus particles to make you sick. Food can get contaminated with norovirus in many ways:

  • An infected person touches food with their bare hands that have feces or vomit particles on them
  • Food is placed on a counter or surface that has feces or vomit particles on it
  • Tiny drops of vomit from an infected person spray through the air and land on the food
  • The food was grown or harvested with contaminated water

Norovirus spreads through contaminated water. Recreational or drinking water can get contaminated with norovirus and make you sick or contaminate your food. This can happen:

  • At the source such as when a septic tank leaks into a well
  • When an infected person vomits or poops in the water
  • When the water isn't treated properly, such as not enough chlorine

Norovirus spreads through sick people and contaminated surfaces. Surfaces can get contaminated with norovirus in many ways, including when:

  • An infected person touches the surface with their bare hands that have feces or vomit particles on them
  • An infected person vomits or has diarrhea that splatters onto surfaces
  • Food, water, or objects that are contaminated with norovirus are placed on surfaces

How to prevent person-to-person transmission of norovirus:


  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly
  • Handle and prepare food safely
  • When you are sick, do not prepare food or care for others
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces after someone vomits or has diarrhea
  • Wash laundry thoroughly