Norovirus is a highly contagious illness caused by a virus.
It is often called by other names such as a stomach flu, food
poisoning and viral gastroenteritis (GAS-tro-en-ter-I-tis).
Noroviruses are found in the stool and vomit of infected
Anyone can be infected with noroviruses and get sick. You
can get infected with norovirus more than once in your life.
One reason for this is because there are different types of
noroviruses and being infected with one type does not always
protect against infection from another type.
The illness begins suddenly and people with norovirus are
contagious from the moment they begin to feel sick and for as
long as 2 weeks after recovery. Symptoms include stomach
cramps, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. Some people may
also experience low-grade fever, chills, headache, body aches
and fatigue. Those infected with norovirus are most
contagious fro the moment they begin to feel sick to as long as
two weeks after recovery. The virus stays in the stool for 2
weeks or more after the infected person feels better. Most
people get better within 1-3 days. Dehydration can be a
problem for people who are infected with nororvirus. It is
important to drink liquids to replace fluid lost when vomiting
Noroviruses are the most common cause of gastroenteritis in
the US. It is estimated that each year, more than 20 million
cases of gastroenteritis are caused by norovirus. That means
that 1 in every 15 Americans will become ill from norovirus
each year. In New Jersey, approximately 100 norovirus
outbreaks are reported to the health department each fallwinter
A sick food handler can easily contaminate the food he or she is handling.
those eating the contaminated food may become ill and an outbreak may result.
Noroviruses can spread quickly from person to person in crowded, closed places
like long-term care facilities, daycare centers, schools, hotels, summer camps,
hospitals, family dinners, restaurants, and cruise ships. In other words, places
where people often eat food that is prepared or handled by others.
New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services
Communicable Disease Service
PO Box 369, Trenton, NJ 08625
Noroviruses can also be a major cause of gastroenteritis in restaurants and
if contaminated food is served and is a leading cause of disease from