You may hear it called the “stomach flu.” Norovirus is a very contagious viral illness. It often spreads from person to person in crowded places. It also spreads through contaminated food and surfaces.
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps and fever. They appear 12 to 36 hours after exposure. They often go away within a few days. Many people are contagious before they show symptoms. The virus can stay in feces for several weeks. Most people will get it several times in their life.
Help prevent it.
Pregnant women, children, elderly and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk. Take time to educate high-risk people about food safety. Tell them to prevent illness by washing their hands and properly handling, cooking and storing food.
Tell high-risk people to never consume unpasteurized milk, cheese or juice; raw meat, fish or shellfish; or blue-veined or fresh soft cheese.
Encourage people to stay home when they’re sick. Especially if they work with high-risk patients or food.
If you have a person with norovirus symptoms, ask them to:
- Provide a stool sample to identify the cause.
- Report it—call reporting line.
- Report stool sample results—send results to the confidential fax (360) 221-8480.
This information helps us identify causes and prevent future illness.
Report more than 1 suspected case of norovirus.
If your school, childcare center, nursing home or healthcare facility has more than 1 suspected case of norovirus:
- To report, call the reporting line: (360) 499-4023 Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Afterhours, call (360) 914-0837 or Washington State Department of Health (206) 418-5500. To report an STI, call (360) 914-0037.
Norovirus Toolkit for Schools and Childcare
Information for schools and childcare on halting the spread of norovirus. Read more.
Norovirus Cleaning Information
Always wear personal protective equipment and clean up visible debris before disinfecting. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other chemicals
Norovirus Communication Tools
Sample newsletter article and letters for parents about norovirus outbreak.
CDC Norovirus Site
Clinical overview of norovirus and information on laboratory diagnosis and treatment. Read more.