Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause acute gastroenteritis, commonly referred to as the “stomach flu.”
Outbreaks are commonly reported in hospitals, long-term care facilities, child care centres and schools. Outbreaks are also being reported in restaurants, catered events, hotels, resorts and cruise ships.
Outbreaks occur throughout the year but the incidence is higher from the fall through to the late spring.
The most common symptoms are:
- sudden onset of nausea
- non-bloody diarrhea
- stomach cramps
Other symptoms may also include:
- low-grade fever (less than 37.8 degrees Celsius)
- muscle aches
Even though norovirus is often referred to as “stomach flu”, it has nothing to do with influenza, a respiratory illness, and cannot be prevented by vaccination. Learn more about the flu.
Visit HealthLink BC’s interactive health symptom checker.
The symptoms of norovirus usually begin 24 – 48 hours after you become infected.
Most norovirus infections are mild and pass in a few days, so most people do not go to their doctor’s for a diagnosis. And there are no specific medications to treat norovirus.
If you have an underlying medical condition, or are elderly, frail, or pregnant, and you feel like you need to, you may wish to visit your doctor or a walk-in clinic.
- Drink small amounts of fluids such as water or rehydration drinks frequently. Dehydration is the most common complication and can become a serious concern for people with poor health.
- Try to stay with your normal diet as much as possible. Eating your usual diet will help you to get enough nutrition and may you feel better faster. Try to avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar. Also avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and coffee for two days after all symptoms have disappeared.
- Stay home from work or school for two days after your symptoms stop.
Dehydration is the most common complication and can become a serious concern for people with poor health.
The illness usually lasts between 12 to 60 hours.
Norovirus can be found in the vomit and diarrhea of people who are sick.
The virus can survive for a long time on surfaces such as countertops or sink taps if not properly cleaned. People can become ill when they touch these surfaces and then place their hands or fingers in their mouth. Occasionally, the virus may spread through the air when someone vomits.
- Be meticulous about washing your hands with soap and water
- Do not share ANY food
- Keep your hands away from your face