Rebecca J. Stahl, MA
Norovirus infection occurs in the stomach and intestines. It is most often call the stomach flu. Outbreaks often occur in areas with close contact such as:
Norovirus infections are caused by a specific group of viruses. The viruses can spread through:
The viruses can also spread by direct contact with an ill person. This is common in a day care center or nursing home.
Any person who ingests the virus is at risk of getting this infection. Older children and adults commonly get this infection.
Even if you have been infected with norovirus in the past, you can become ill again if:
Symptoms may include:
Symptoms often appear within 24-48 hours of exposure to the virus. Symptoms often last about 1-3 days.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Often, this is enough to make the diagnosis.
It is rarely necessary to determine the exact virus causing the infection. Stool and blood samples may be taken if your doctor wants to know the exact type of virus causing the problem.
A norovirus infection will go away on its own. Medical treatment is often not needed since the illness is often brief and mild.
Most people will recover by resting and drinking plenty of fluids. Oral rehydration solutions are the best option to help replace fluids and electrolytes. These can be found in most drugstores. Severe dehydration may require IV fluids in a hospital but this is a rare complication in the United States.
Antibiotics are not effective against viruses. There are no antiviral medications or vaccines used to fight or prevent this infection.
To help reduce your chance of getting or passing noroviruses take the following steps:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases
Public Health Agency of Canada
Norovirus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/about/overview.html. Updated July 26, 2013. Accessed June 7, 2016.
Norovirus infection. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114466/Norovirus-infection. Updated April 20, 2016. Accessed September 27, 2016.
Norovirus illness: Key facts: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/downloads/keyfacts.pdf. Published January 2015. Accessed June 7, 2016.
Phillips G, Tam CC, Rodrigues LC, Lopman B. Risk factors for symptomatic and
asymptomatic norovirus infection in the community.
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Scallan E, Hoekstra RM, et al. Foodborne illness acquired in the United States-major pathogens.
Emerg Infect Dis. 2011;17(1):7-15.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Marcie Sidman, MD
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