Norovirus causes vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and/or stomach pain, as well as a potential for fever, headache, and body aches. If you have norovirus, you can feel extremely ill and experience vomiting and diarrhea multiple times a day. The virus can be spread by:
- Eating foods or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus,
- Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus then putting your fingers in your mouth, or
- Having direct contact with someone who is infected with norovirus, such as by caring for them or sharing food or utensils with them.
Symptoms usually occur 12-24 hours after exposure. Norovirus is most contagious from the onset of symptoms to a couple of days after recovering from the virus, but the virus can continue to be spread for two weeks or more after those with the virus are feeling better.
The best protection against norovirus is:
- Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water, particularly prior to eating. Hand sanitizer is not a substitute for washing hands as it does not remove norovirus particles.
- Avoid others who may be sick with the virus.
- Avoid sharing anything that has come into contact with saliva, whether in your living or social environments.
- Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.
These strategies are a good idea at any time, but especially now during the start of flu season and with the possibility of additional norovirus cases.
If you have symptoms suggesting norovirus, we strongly recommend that you stay home. Students can contact Student Health General Medicine at 434-982-3915 to determine the best steps to take. An on-call clinician is available on weekends and after regular hours.
For more information about norovirus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.