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Norovirus is a virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea in all ages. Outbreaks are commonly reported in hospitals, long-term care facilities, childcare centres and schools. Outbreaks are also 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 a sudden onset of nausea, vomiting, non-bloody diarrhea and stomach cramps.

Other symptoms may also include low-grade fever (less than 37.8 degrees Celsius), chills, headache, muscle aches and fatigue.

A mild and brief illness usually develops 24 to 48 hours after you eat or drink the contaminated food or water and lasts for 24 to 60 hours. Only in rare cases does a person get very sick or have to go to the hospital.

Dehydration is the most common complication and can become a serious concern for people with poor health.


There is no medicine to treat norovirus. People get better on their own within a few days.

What to do if a child has norovirus

At the childcare or school

  • If a child is sick while at the centre or school, place the child in a separate room or away from other children.
  • If three or more people are ill with vomiting or diarrhea within a short time, report this to your local Community Health Centre.
  • If you have to clean up vomit or diarrhea, refer to the guidelines for cleaning spills of blood and body fluids

At home 

  • If another child at the centre or school has diarrhea or vomiting, watch your child for signs of illness.
  • If your child becomes ill and is vomiting or has diarrhea, offer your child plenty of fluids to drink.
  • Wash your hands and your child’s hands well using soap and warm water after using the toilet, after diaper changes and after cleaning up after your child.
  • Watch your child for Signs of Dehydration.

Call your doctor immediately if you think your child may be dehydrated or has any other signs of illness that concern you.


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 adequately cleaned. People can become ill when they touch these surfaces and then place their hands or fingers in their mouths. Occasionally, the virus may spread through the air when someone vomits.

How to prevent norovirus from spreading

  • Be meticulous about washing your hands with soap and water
  • Do not share any food
  • Keep your hands away from your face



    • More information about norovirus

      From HealthLink BC

    • Norovirus and the Hospitality Industry

      A guide for hotel operators.

More on this topic

Management of gastroenteritis infections in shelters, drop-ins, and social housing facilities

Increase in norovirus cases associated with consumption of raw oysters