Control of Infection: Norovirus

Outbreaks of Norovirus infection are more likely to occur during the winter months within institutions such as schools, child care settings, residential facilities, hospitals and long-term care facilities.

Slideshow Items

  • Close up of norovirus cells.

The virus is easily spread from person to person through direct contact, contact with contaminated surfaces and ingestion of food contaminated by an infected person.

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus and causes gastroenteritis, inflammation of the stomach and intestines. The typical symptoms of norovirus are nausea, vomiting, low-grade fever, abdominal cramps and watery, bloody diarrhoea. Symptoms usually develop within 24 – 48 hours after exposure, but can appear as early as 12 hours. The illness typically lasts 12 to 60 hours and usually will resolve on its own. Individuals are most contagious when sick with norovirus and during the three days after recovery.

The virus can persist on surfaces in the environment for weeks and is often not destroyed by many disinfecting products.

Control Measures

  • Educate everyone about good hand washing techniques
  • Adults should observe younger children washing hands after using the toilet and before eating.
  • Ensure each basin is supplied with soap and paper towels. If soap and water are not available e.g. at outdoor facilities use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, but remember nothing is as good as soap and water.
  • Post signs to remind all persons to practice frequent hand washing and good hand washing techniques.
  • Ensure that cleaning of touch points e.g. door handles, light switches, taps, shared serving utensils, play equipment and toys, are thorough particularly during times when there are higher cases of sickness and diarrhoea.
  • Ensure that persons cleaning areas that are contaminated with vomit and or faeces are provided with disposable gloves, apron and face masks and the waste is disposed of in clinical waste bags and the area disinfected. 

For further help and advice on how to protect and reduce infection call What No Safety on 01722 326 390.