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Page last updated on 28 February 2019

Norovirus, also called the stomach flu, is not related to the flu at all. It is a highly contagious viral disease that causes diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain.

Key disease information

What is norovirus?

Norovirus is a group of contagious viruses that cause gastroenteritis. It affects millions of people each year, of all ages and at multiple times during their life. That’s because there are many different types of noroviruses, and infection with one type won’t necessarily protect you from infection by another type.

How is norovirus spread?

Norovirus spreads very easily and quickly. The virus is shed in faeces and vomit, which can inadvertently make their way to your mouth and infect you. You can accidentally ingest the virus which may be on surfaces you touch and come into direct contact with your mouth (such as utensils or fingers). You can also catch it by eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated. Direct contact with someone who has norovirus is also an easy way to become infected.

Is norovirus contagious?

Yes, norovirus is very contagious.If you get norovirus, you can shed billions of virus particles in your faeces or vomit. It only takes a few viral particles to make others sick. It is most contagious when an infected person has symptoms and for a few days after.

What are the symptoms of norovirus?

The most common symptoms of norovirus infection are diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain. Other symptoms include fever, headache and body aches and pains. Symptoms usually appear about 24 to 48 hours after you have contracted the virus – but can appear earlier in some cases.

How can norovirus be prevented?

If you want to avoid catching norovirus, there are some things you can do. Always washing your hands well before and after eating and avoiding putting your fingers and other unwashed objects (like pens, railings) in your mouth. When visiting places, eat food that is cooked and served hot, drink beverages from sealed containers, avoid ice and only eat fresh produce if you have washed it with clean water or peeled it yourself.

If you do happen to catch norovirus, you can help prevent the spread of disease by practicing good hygiene and avoiding public places when you are unwell. The most important thing you can do to prevent the spread of norovirus is to practice good hygiene, such as washing hands well, handling and preparing food safely, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces regularly, and washing laundry thoroughly. You should also avoid contact with others if you are experiencing the symptoms of norovirus infection, and a few days afterwards. Avoid preparing food during this time as well.

For more information regarding norovirus, speak with your healthcare professional.

VaccineHub offers general information only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice

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Sources & Citations

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Norovirus. About norovirus. Available at: (accessed 18 October 2018).
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Norovirus. Transmission. Available at: (accessed 18 October 2018).
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Symptoms of Norovirus. Available at: (accessed 18 October 2018).
  4. Queensland Government. Norovirus. Available at: (accessed 22 October 2018).
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC features. Prevent the spread of norovirus. Available at: (accessed 18 October 2018).
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cruise ship travel. Available at: (accessed 2 November 2018). 

SPANZ.SAPAS.18.10.0371 - Date of preparation November 2018