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Foodborne Viruses


Norovirus is a leading cause
of foodborne illness.

You can get norovirus from contaminated food or water, an infected person, or by touching contaminated surfaces. Norovirus causes inflammation of the stomach, intestines or both. This is called acute gastroenteritis. This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

Anyone can have norovirus illness many times in their life. Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States. Each year, it causes about 21 million illnesses and contributes to about 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths.

Anyone can be infected
with norovirus and get sick.

Norovirus and Food

Norovirus is a leading cause of illness from contaminated food in the United States.
Foods commonly involved in outbreaks include:

  • leafy greens (such as lettuce, spinach)
  • fresh fruits
  • shellfish (such as oysters)

However, any food served raw or handled after being cooked can get contaminated.

Most Common Symptoms

  • diarrhea
  • throwing up
  • nausea
  • stomach pain

Other Symptoms:

  • fever
  • headache
  • body aches

Symptoms of Dehydration

  • decrease in urination
  • dry mouth and throat
  • feeling dizzy when standing up

*Children who are dehydrated may cry with few or no tears and be unusually sleepy or fussy.

Knowledge is everything


Always wash your hands
with soap and water

Running Water + Soap + Friction = Clean Hands.

The most important food safety action you can take is just washing up before and after touching food.

Rinse your produce

Fruits and veggies are not naturally clean and may contain harmful germs from the soil in which it grows.

It can also get dirty during transport, storage, and handling from the warehouse to the point of sale.

Cook your seafood thoroughly

Oysters and shellfish must be cooked thoroughly before eating.

Noroviruses are relatively resistant and able to survive quick steaming processes that are often used for cooking shellfish, as well as temperatures as high as 140°F (60°C).

Are you sick?
Don’t prepare food for others.

During your illness and at least 2-3 days after your recovery you’re still highly contagious.

This is especially important for workers in schools, daycares, food establishments, and other places where they may expose people to norovirus. Keep sick infants and children out of areas where food is being handled and prepared.

Foods that might be contaminated should be thrown out.

Clean and disinfect
contaminated surfaces

Especially after throwing up or having diarrhea.

Use a chlorine bleach solution with a concentration of 1000-5000 ppm (5-25 tablespoons of household bleach per gallon of water). Or an EPA-registered norovirus disinfectant.

Wash laundry a maximum cycle with detergent, and machine dry.

Remove and wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or feces.

Wear gloves and handle contaminated items to avoid dispersal of the virus into the air.


If you have norovirus illness, you can feel extremely ill and throw up or have diarrhea many times a day.

This can lead to dehydration, especially in young children, older adults, and people with other illnesses.

Most people with norovirus illness get better within 1 to 3 days, however, it can be serious for some people, especially young children and older adults.

There is no specific medicine to treat people with norovirus illness.

Antibiotic drugs will not help because antibiotics fight against bacteria not viruses.

can lead to
serious problems

If you have norovirus illness, drink plenty of liquids to replace fluids lost from throwing up and diarrhea.

If you're severely
call the doctor

Severe dehydration may require hospitalization for treatment with fluids given through your veins (intravenous or IV fluids).

Sports drinks
and other
caffeine-free drinks

Drinks without caffeine or alcohol can help with mild dehydration, but may not replace important nutrients and minerals.


Oral rehydration fluids that you can get over the counter are most helpful for mild dehydration.

This hospital visit was just the beginning of an ongoing battle with food poisoning that I am still fighting. The virus-contaminated food caused severe damage to my entire gastrointestinal system ... I have visited area hospitals countless times, been through numerous diagnostic tests that have been invasive, painful, humiliating, and embarrassing.