Updated on

Norovirus infection causes severe and sudden vomiting and diarrhea. It is highly contagious. They spread through contaminated food/water or through contaminated surfaces. ‘Noroviruses’ spread through close contact with an infected person. 

Usually, diarrhea, stomach pain and vomiting begin 12 to 48 hours post exposure. The symptoms usually last for 1 to 3 days. Most of the people tend to recover completely without treatment. But for young children, adults and people with other ‘medical conditions’ – vomiting and diarrhea can be extremely dehydrating, hence requiring medical attention.

Norovirus infection mostly occurs in closed and crowded environments. For example: It spreads easily in hospitals, child care centers, schools etc.


Signs and symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain/cramps, loose diarrhea, illness, low-grade fever and muscle pain.

Signs and symptoms usually start 12 to 48 hours after first exposure and last up to 1 to 3 days. An infected person may continue to shed virus in stool for several weeks post recovery.

A few of the infected people may not display any signs or symptoms. But they will still be contagious and can potentially spread the virus to others.

When to consult a doctor

Seek medical care if you suffer from diarrhea which doesn’t go away within several days. In short, consult a doctor if you suffer from vomiting, bloody stools, stomach pain/dehydration.


Being highly contagious, the infection can spread easily. Norovirus is shed in stool and vomit. The virus spreads between the time you display first symptoms of infection; up to several days post recovery. Noroviruses will stay on surfaces and objects for days/weeks.

One can get norovirus infection by

  • Consuming contaminated food.
  • If he/she drinks contaminated water.
  • Touching hand to your mouth, after being in contact with a contaminated surface/object.
  • Being in close contact with a person infected by norovirus.

It is difficult to kill noroviruses as they can withstand hot and cold temperatures/several disinfectants.

Risk Factors

  • In case you eat food from a place where it has been handled by a person suffering from norovirus infection.
  • Contaminated water/surfaces are the perfect breeding grounds for the infection.
  • Can spread easily in preschools/child care centers.
  • Can contract the disease if we are living in close quarters (Example: nursing homes).
  • Risk of infection is high in hotels, resorts and cruise ships.
  • Coming in contact with someone who has norovirus infection is always risky.


By large, norovirus infection is not life threatening. It usually clears up within a few days. But it might severely affect young children, older adults, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems/medical conditions. In such cases it might cause severe dehydration and might even lead to death.

Fatigue, dry mouth and throat, listlessness, dizziness, and decreased urine output are among the warning signs of dehydration.


Being highly contagious, there are several types of noroviruses as well. 

  • Wash your hands thoroughly using soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid eating contaminated food and water.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating. 
  • Disinfect surfaces.
  • Be careful while traveling to places with high risk of norovirus infection.

For preventing spread of norovirus infection, during illness and the recovery phase:

  • Avoid contact with other people as much as possible.
  • In case you are affected, stay at home!
  • Use disinfectants effective against noroviruses.
  • Dispose of vomit and stool carefully, wash clothes and linens which may be contaminated.
Check Your Knowledge

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *