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