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Indiana State Department of Health

ISDH Home > About the Agency > Schools Communicable Disease Guide > Norovirus (viral gastroenteritis) Norovirus (viral gastroenteritis)

Clinical Description
Norovirus is a gastrointestinal disease caused by viruses from the genus Norovirus. Symptoms can include watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue. Most cases have no, or slight, fever. Illness is self-limiting and symptoms generally last 24-48 hours.  Although often termed “stomach flu”, viral gastrotenteritis should not be confused with influenza, which is a respiratory illness.

Incubation Period
Symptoms usually begin 24-48 hours (range of 12-72 hours) after exposure.    

Mode of Transmission
Norovirus is transmitted by the fecal-oral route.

Period of Communicability
A person can spread Norovirus when experiencing symptoms and up to 72 hours after recovery.  Some studies indicate that those infected can shed virus up to two weeks after recovery.  Only a very small dose of virus is needed to cause infection.

Exclusion/Attendance
It is recommended that persons with diarrhea and/or vomiting be excluded from attending school until asymptomatic.

Prevention/Care

  • Encourage frequent hand washing, particularly after using the restroom, assisting someone with diarrhea and/or vomiting, after swimming, and before and after food preparation (please refer to the ISDH Quick Facts about Hand Washing).
  • Enforce exclusion of ill students or staff members.
  • Inform caregiver of child to seek evaluation by a medical provider if experiencing signs of dehydration.  
  • Other Resources
    Indiana State Department of Health Quick Fact Link:
    http://www.in.gov/isdh/22189.htm

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Link:
    http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/submenus/sub_norwalk.htm