Travel Advice/Travel Tips - Noroviruses
and cruise ships
Noroviruses are a group of viruses (previously known as Norwalk-like
viruses) that can affect the stomach and intestines.
These viruses can cause people to have gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the
stomach and the large intestines.
Gastroenteritis is sometimes called a calicivirus infection or food poisoning,
even though it may not always be related to food.
Norovirus is sometimes called the “stomach flu,” although it is not related to
the flu (a common respiratory illness cause by the influenza virus).
This illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick.
Normally the illness lasts about 1 to 2 days. Children often vomit more
Symptoms caused by noroviruses
Common Symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping
Less common symptoms: low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, nausea,
Where noroviruses are found
Noroviruses are found in the stool or vomit of infected people and on infected
surfaces that have been touched by people ill with the virus.
Outbreaks occur more often where there are more people in a small area, such as
nursing homes, restaurants, catered events, and cruise
Reasons why noroviruses are associated with cruise ships
Health officials track illness on cruise ships. Therefore, outbreaks are found
and reported more quickly on a cruise ship than on land.
Close living quarters may increase the amount of group contact.
New passenger arrivals may bring the virus to other passengers and
How noroviruses are spread
People can become infected with the virus by:
Eating food or drinking liquids infected with noroviruses
Touching surfaces or objects infected with noroviruses and then touching own
mouth, nose, or eyes
Having person-to-person contact (with a norovirus-infected person) by
being present while someone is vomiting
sharing food or eating from the same utensils
caring for a sick person
- Not washing hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and
before eating or preparing food.
Norovirus infections are not usually serious
- Noroviruses are highly contagious, but infections are not usually
- People may feel very sick and vomit often or get diarrhea, becoming
dehydrated if lost liquids are not replaced.
- Most people recover within 1 or 2 days and have no long-term
adverse health effects.
What to do if you get a norovirus
- Advise the medical staff of your illness. Drink plenty of fluids.
Wash hands often.
How to prevent getting and spreading noroviruses
- Wash hands often.
- Wash hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before
eating or preparing food.
- Wash hands more often when someone in your home is sick.
- For hand washing tips, see our articles on
those hands clean.
- Avoid shaking hands during outbreaks.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer along with hand washing.
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