Norovirus: reduce your risk
Norovirus is a common viral infection of the digestive system. For the past twenty years, norovirus causes more than half of the foodborne illness outbreaks in Minnesota. The Centers of Disease Control considers norovirus the leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States.
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps are classic signs of norovirus illness. Symptoms begin one or two days after eating or drinking "infected" food or liquids. The illness is short lived, lasting 24 to 48 hours. Sometimes people infected with norovirus are not sick with symptoms but can still pass the illness to others.
Norovirus is a human disease and is easily spread from person to person by eating food touched by an infected person or touching a surface containing the virus.
Remember the facts and follow these food safety rules to reduce your risk of norovirus.
- Norovirus is spread to food by "unclean" hands.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds after using the toilet, before preparing food, and before eating.
- Don't touch ready-to-eat food or ice with your bare hands. Use gloves, spoons or tongs instead.
- Norovirus is killed by cooking. Use a food thermometer to make certain foods reach the recommended internal cooking temperature.
- Norovirus can spread while you are sick and during recovery. Do not prepare food for others while you are ill and for at least three days after you recover.
- Disinfect hand contact surfaces such as faucets in the kitchen and bathroom with a bleach solution of 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach to 1 quart of water.
Report Norovirus illness or other food-related illness to the Minnesota Foodborne Illness Hotline at 1-877-366-3455.
Reviewed by Kathy Brandt, University of Minnesota Extension educator, 2013.