Norovirus - Prevention 

Preventing norovirus  

It's not always possible to avoid getting norovirus, but good hygiene measures can help limit the spread of the virus.

The advice below will help stop the virus spreading.

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, particularly after using the toilet and before preparing food.
  • Don't share towels and flannels.
  • Disinfect any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated with the virus. It's best to use a bleach-based household cleaner.
  • Wash any items of clothing or bedding that could have become contaminated with the virus. Wash the items separately and on a hot wash to ensure that the virus is killed.
  • Flush away any infected faeces or vomit in the toilet and clean the surrounding toilet area.
  • Avoid eating raw, unwashed produce and only eat oysters from a reliable source. Oysters have been known to carry the norovirus.

Read more about preventing germs from spreading.

If you have norovirus, avoid direct contact with other people and preparing food for others until at least 48 hours after your symptoms have disappeared. You may still be contagious, even though you no longer have sickness or diarrhoea.

Avoid visiting hospitals if you have had the typical symptoms of norovirus in the past 48 hours. Some hospitals may request you avoid visiting if you've had symptoms within the past 72 hours. Norovirus is more serious and even more easily spread among people who are already ill.

You may be asked to rearrange a medical appointment if you have had norovirus symptoms recently.

Shellfish warning

Raw or lightly cooked shellfish has been known to infect a person with norovirus.

A study published in 2011 by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) found that just over three-quarters (76%) of oysters sampled from harvesting beds in UK waters tested positive for norovirus. The virus was detected at low levels in more than half (52%) of the positive samples.

Currently, these findings don't provide any greater indication of the risk of becoming ill at the point where oysters are purchased and consumed.

However, the FSA advises that older people, pregnant women, very young children and those who are unwell should avoid eating raw or lightly cooked shellfish to reduce their risk of getting food poisoning.

Page last reviewed: 20/01/2014

Next review due: 20/01/2016


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The 8 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

User874469 said on 19 September 2014

This virus is airborne so it is almost impossible to prevent the spread apart from isolating oneself from others with it. I have caught it from just standing next to someone who has had it recently. Why is there not a vaccine like the flu vaccine? It really does seem to cause more misery than flu. Come on drug companies! I have seen the vaccine on the web but it does not seem available in the UK.

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mumnatasha said on 19 March 2014

get antiviral foam which you can buy from boots pharmacy, it kills viruses unlike alcohol gel which kills bacteria.

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samfam said on 20 March 2013

It would be helpful to know some more details about the persistence of the virus:

(1) How long does it last on surfaces such as door-handles, taps ?
(2) How long do people remain infectious with it.
The advice says "at least 48 hours" but until when.
(3) If there are people who continue to carry the virus beyond that how long can they carry it and how frequent are symptom free carriers?

Or don't we actually know?

The issues are things like should I advice my work to bleach down door handles because I had the virus at the weekend and returned to work after 48 hours symptom free - or is that overkill?

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charlesgreen101 said on 06 January 2013

I seriously recommend taking the prevention advice. I caught this nasty virus and have been suffering for four days with stomach pains, headaches and vomitting. It is very contagious as both my bothers, sister and baby nephew caught the virus. This occured just from attending a party at new years. My brothers and sister went to their family homes and the virus had spread like wild fire to their partners, mothers in law, ect... If you have this virus it is wise to keep away from other people and stay at home, and if you live with other people maintain very good hygiene.

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ftizzbee30 said on 23 December 2012

Very nice comment, but you are basically wrong, the commentator states that they were given antibiotics for a chest infection!! yes bacteria can develop multi resistance (although exposure to biocides , so called 'deep cleaning' has shown development of antibiotic resistance in cultures never exposed to that antibiotic!!-yes, it ain't that simple!!). So the doctor was not wrong in their treatment. The nausea/diarrhoea was more probably a side effect of the antibiotics!

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dazpanzan said on 13 December 2012

@christienotts go back and tell your doctor that they are actually causing more harm to the whole country and they should think hard about why they gave you antibiotics. Antibiotics will not work! For any virus full stop, and when given anti biotics for reasons like this they weaken the drug against ever changing bacteria, bacteria os completely different to a virus and adapta to combat antibiotics, uf antibiotics contine to be given out for people demand them when they wont work or for not knowing they Sony work tjey will necome useless in the future. Ease tell Tour doctor this because its Noe a serious problem, kf antibiotics lose theyre capability to combat bacteria in the future the consequences are Brey serious indeed. NovoVirus os not bacteria and cannot be treated ny antibiotics, not now, not ever. Tour doctor os wreckless and an idiot. Bed, fluids, isolation and strict hygiene os what you need, not antibiotics. Please act on this to stop it happening again. This country needs effective antibiotics, our children and our future depend on them being uses correctly.

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christienotts said on 22 March 2012

I got the start of this bug last wednesday with flu like systoms my whole body ached ,temp, felt awful then friday the sickness started and the running to the loo , i went to doctors as i had trouble breathing as i had chest infection charming eh .
he gave me antibotics from there on i felt worse.
i had to return to doctors on tuesday as there had been no improvement still feel vile chest still bad and cant keep much down food wise. i now have second antibotics how long does this awful bug last as im now fed up feeling poorly.

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User286432 said on 29 January 2010

I note your Norovirus pages were due to be reviewed at the end of last October....?

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