Food Poisoning caused by the Norovirus is highly contagious and can infect anyone. Norovirus related food poisoning causes the stomach and intestines to become inflamed, which leads to stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Referred to as “gastroenteritis”, Norovirus illnesses can be more serious for those who are more vulnerable, such as children and the elderly. Norovirus is spread quickly by those who are infected, as well as contaminated food and water or contaminated surfaces. Norovirus related illness is often called “stomach flu” or “food poisoning”.
Norovirus related food poisoning often originates from food that has been contaminated by improper handling.
Due to the highly contagious nature of Norovirus, outbreaks of food poisoning related to the Norovirus can be common in various facilities where close contact is common, such as in your own home, health care facilities, schools, daycares, cruise ships, and food establishments. Since children can be especially vulnerable, protecting schools and elder care facilities from Norovirus outbreaks is crucial.
Each year, Norovirus accounts for:
>20 million cases of gastroenteritis
>65,000 hospitalizations and 600 deaths
About 50% of food poisoning cases are caused by the Norovirus…this is more than E. coli and salmonella related illnesses combined!
Symptoms of Norovirus illness include:
>Fever and dehydration
Norovirus related food poisoning usually lasts 1-2 days, but those who have the illness are contagious 3-14 days after they recover.
How do you get it?
The spread of Norovirus related food poisoning includes:
>Eating food contaminated with Norovirus
>Touching surfaces/objects contaminated with Norovirus, and then placing your hand in your mouth
>Direct contact with an infected person (caring for a sick person, sharing food, drinks, and eating utensils, etc.)
There is no vaccine, no cure, and no drug to treat Norovirus.
>The most effective treatment for Norovirus is rest and rehydration.
How do you avoid it?
- Carefully wash fruits and vegetables, and fully cook oysters, shellfish, and meats before eating them.
- Do not prepare food if you are infected or could be infected.
- Wash your hands frequently. Before touching or handling food, wash hands by dispensing soap into the palm, then rub hands together for 20 seconds under warm water.
- Immediately wash clothing and linens that may be contaminated with vomit or fecal matter.
- Handle soiled items carefully to avoid spreading the virus?
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces with a disinfectant that kills the Norovirus.
In commercial applications, consider using an electrostatic sprayer to apply norovirus disinfectants to surfaces that might likely get missed.
Hand hygiene should always be followed, but during an outbreak it should be actively promoted and strictly adhered to. Use proper technique, quickly washing and rinsing in a few seconds may not be effective! Wash your hands (remember 20 seconds) with soap and water frequently, especially after using the restroom or changing diapers, and before eating or preparing food. According to the CDC, proper handwashing involves the steps below:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them
It is also important to note that although hand sanitizers are a good complement to washing with soap and water, it is not an appropriate replacement. Hand sanitizers are not typically effective against Norovirus, so washing with soap and water is crucial.
Cleaning and Disinfecting with a disinfectant that has a kill claim for Norovirus. Check your disinfectant to make sure! Norovirus is a more difficult pathogen to kill and many disinfectants on the market do not have Norovirus claims.
Multi-Clean makes a number of disinfectants with proven effectiveness against the Norovirus. Products include:
#128 E-Fecticide Disinfectant Cleaner, fast kill, broad spectrum hospital grade disinfectant, concentrate, kills Norovirus in 5 minutes.
Millennium Q Disinfectant Cleaner, broad spectrum, hospital grade disinfectant, kills norovirus.
Microcide TB Disinfectant Cleaner, kills norovirus in 30 seconds.
Century Q Wipes kills 99.9% of bacteria in 15 seconds.
Electrostatic Sprayers like the E-Spray Gun from Multi-Clean can quickly apply surface disinfectants and sanitizers to large surface areas quickly and uniformly. The electrostatic technology applies a small electric charge to the disinfectant particles so they are attracted to surfaces like a magnet. Complex or hard to reach surfaces that are often missed get uniformly covered by the disinfectant. For more information on electrostatic applications, visit our electrostatic webpage.