Last updated: 23 December 2020
What is it?
- Norovirus is a group of viruses that can be found in the gut of people
- Norovirus can get into water and food from the faeces (poo) or vomit of infected people, for example from unwashed hands
- Norovirus can stay infectious in the environment for a long time and might not be destroyed by common disinfectants
- Foods at higher risk of contamination include shellfish (e.g. oysters) and food that is ready to eat (won’t be further cooked)
What's the risk?
- Norovirus can cause gastro illness and is highly contagious
- Anyone can get gastro from norovirus even if they have had it before
- Very young children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems (e.g. cancer patients) can get seriously ill from dehydration
Reduce your risk
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and dry them before preparing and eating food, especially after going to the toilet or changing nappies
- Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly under running water
- Avoid eating raw shellfish
- If you are sick with norovirus you should not prepare food for others until 48 hours after vomiting and diarrhoea have stopped
- Keep your kitchen and equipment clean
Symptoms of norovirus
- Symptoms usually start 24 to 48 hours after eating contaminated food or touching contaminated cutlery, glassware or other surfaces
- Common symptoms are frequent vomiting and watery diarrhoea, nausea, muscle aches, headaches and low fever
- Most people are sick for one to three days.