Winter Vomiting Bug (Norovirus)

Norovirus, sometimes referred to as the winter vomiting bug, is the most common cause of gastroenteritis.


Diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, headache

Usual onset

12 to 48 hours after exposure


1 to 3 days



Diagnostic method

Based on symptoms


Norovirus infection is characterized by nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, and in some cases, loss of taste. A person usually develops symptoms of gastroenteritis 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus.

General lethargy, weakness, muscle aches, headaches, and low-grade fevers may occur. The disease is usually self-limiting, and severe illness is rare. Although having norovirus can be unpleasant, it is not usually dangerous and most who contract it make a full recovery within two to three days.


Noroviruses are transmitted directly from person to person (62–84% of all reported outbreaks) and indirectly via contaminated water and food.

Shellfish and salad ingredients are the foods most often implicated in norovirus outbreaks. Ingestion of shellfish that have not been sufficiently heated under 75 °C (167 °F) poses a high risk for norovirus infection. Foods other than shellfish may be contaminated by infected food handlers. Many norovirus outbreaks have been traced to food that was handled by one infected person.


1.) Wash your hands thoroughly. If you think you may have come into contact with the virus, you must wash your hands thoroughly to avoid the spread of infection.

2.) Use bleach to clean surfaces. Chlorine bleach is an effective cleaning agent that kills norovirus. Increase the concentration or buy a new bottle of chlorine bleach if the bleach you have has been open for more than a month.

3.) Wash your food before eating or cooking it. Wash all food items such as meats, fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consumption or for use in cooking. This is important as norovirus has the tendency to survive even at temperatures well above 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

4.) For areas exposed to feces or vomit contamination there are special cleaning procedures that you should try to follow. This is because the vomit or feces of a person contaminated with norovirus can easily cause you to become infected.

5.) Cook your food thoroughly before eating it. Seafood and shellfish should be cooked thoroughly before eating it. Quick steaming your food will generally not kill the virus, as it can survive the steaming process. Instead, bake or boil your food at temperatures higher than 140 F (60 C) if you are concerned about its origins.

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