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Norovirus is one of the “Big Six” microorganisms that are highly infectious and can cause severe foodborne illnesses. Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the U.S., causing as many as 21 million illnesses each year, over 100,000 hospitalizations and 900 deaths.

For more information on this viral pathogen and what solutions you can use to combat the threat of an outbreak in your business, check out our knowledge sheet.

How is Norovirus transmitted?

Norovirus is the pathogen responsible for approximately 60% of the gastroenteritis illnesses from known pathogens, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This highly infectious virus is transmitted very easily from person to person as well as through food such as salads, sandwiches, and baked goods that have been cross-contaminated by an infected food handler. Additionally, undercooked shellfish such as oysters harvested from norovirus-contaminated water have caused a number of outbreaks.

The pathogen is present in the feces and vomit of infected people in very high concentrations. Since viruses are so small, they can spread in the air to approximately 25 feet from the location where an ill person vomits.

Norovirus prevention tips

By implementing these procedures, you can greatly reduce the risk of a norovirus outbreak in your business.

  1. Require frequent and proper handwashing for employees before preparing or handling any food. This includes scrubbing beneath fingernails, between fingers,and around wrists.
  2. Use a disinfectant with efficacy against the norovirus when cleaning the restroom.
  3. Do not permit employees to work when ill with vomiting and diarrhea or diagnosed with any of foodborne pathogens and do not allow them to return to work until they are symptom-free for at least 48 hours.
  4. Do not serve undercooked shellfish unless there is a consumer advisory on the menu.
  5. Have a written plan to respond to potential norovirus contamination such as vomiting or diarrheal incidents.

If you are currently experiencing a Norovirus outbreak, Steritech offers Crisis Management assistance. We also provide a broad range of health and safety services that aim to reduce the risk of transmission of food-borne illnesses. Contact us today to learn more.


This printable poster reminds employees of important must-know facts about norovirus and things they can do to reduce your establishment’s risk.


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