Norovirus Information

Why norovirus is so serious

Norovirus is highly contagious and can infect anyone. The symptoms—stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting—can be serious for some people. Each year, norovirus causes 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and 570 to 800 deaths, mostly in young children and the elderly.

A very small amount of norovirus can make someone sick. As few as 18 viral particles of norovirus on food or hands will do the job. The amount of virus particles that could fit on the head of pin is enough to infect 1,000 people.

Why foodservice needs to pay special attention

Restaurants, banquet facilities, and catering combine to cause a staggering 81 percent of norovirus outbreaks. By comparison, health care facilities only cause 1 percent. In the U.S., norovirus is the leading cause of disease outbreaks from contaminated food.

Due to its contagiousness, every vomit incident in your food establishment needs to be treated as if it is infected with norovirus. Because particles can also be airborne, it is vital to thoroughly clean and sanitize the site immediately.

So how do you get Norovirus?
Noroviruses are highly contagious. Let’s start there. The main way norovirus spreads is an unsuspecting carrier, someone who is sick but doesn’t know it is “that kind of sick” — like super dangerous for everyone sick — has an episode. That episode happens. It’s human.

Let’s skip forward. Norovirus are shed in the feces of infected humans and animals. Methods of transmission include:

  • Eating contaminated food
  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Touching your hand to your mouth after your hand has been in contact with a contaminated surface or object
  • Being in close contact with a person who has a norovirus infection

Noroviruses are difficult to wipe out because they can withstand hot and cold temperatures as well as most disinfectants. They can live on surfaces for weeks. Finally, poorly cleaning the, um episode, contributes to its spread, too. It gets everywhere it wasn’t and often isn’t even sanitized where it was. can help!