Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause inflammation of the stomach and large intestine lining (gastroenteritis); they are the leading cause of gastroenteritis in the U.S. The norovirus was originally called the Nor walk virus after the town of Nor walk, Ohio, the location of the first confirmed outbreak in 1972.
Noroviruses are sometimes called food poising, because they can be transmitted through food that's been contaminated with the virus. They aren't always the result of food contamination, though. Noroviruses are also sometimes called the stomach flu, although they aren't the influenza virus.
Prevention: Good hygiene is the key to preventing an infection with norovirus, especially when you are in close surroundings with a lot of other people.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after going to the bathroom or changing a baby's diaper, and before you prepare or eat food.
- Carefully dispose of any contaminated items (such as dirty diapers).
- Wash raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly. Cook oysters and other shellfish before eating them.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces with a mixture of detergent and chlorine bleach after someone is sick.
- If you have norovirus, don't prepare food for at least two to three days after you feel better. Try not to eat food that has been prepared by someone else who is sick.
- Commonly linked foods: People become infected with noroviruses when they eat food or drink liquids that have been contaminated; raw or under cooked oysters and raw fruits and vegetables have been implicated in some outbreaks. You can also get infected if you touch an object or surface that has been infected with the virus and then touch your nose, mouth, or eyes.