Protect your family from the Norovirus

Press Release

COLUMBUS, GA - Restroom lines may become longer as Norovirus arrives and travels around your town.

Norovirus is a hardy virus that is found worldwide and usually it only takes a very small amount of the germ to cause sudden vomiting and diarrhea about 12 to 24 hours after someone is exposed to the virus. Many people may know this virus better as "stomach flu," "acute gastroenteritis" or the "cruise ship virus".

The virus is most common in late fall and early winter and often causes several persons in closed settings such as nursing homes, schools or detention centers to become ill.

The sickness caused by the virus usually lasts a very short time 12 hours to 3 days. It is very important to be sure that a sick person is able to keep an adequate amount of fluids in the body during the acute signs and symptoms.

The virus is passed from person to person usually through the hands which are not completely free of the virus but it can also be indirectly spread such as through the spray of vomit if you are near someone who becomes ill.

Norovirus is considered a bad bug because it survives both freezing temperatures and up to 60 degrees C /140 degrees Fahrenheit. The virus can survive in shellfish that are steamed.

There are some things you can do to stay healthy and reduce the spread:

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water before eating or drinking and after using the rest room.
  • Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water after coming into contact with sick persons or objects in their environment. Hands should also be washed before handling food, drink, or medications; and upon entering or leaving a sick persons room.
  • Be alert for the following warning signs of dehydration in children and notify the doctor immediately if any of them develop:
    • Mild to Moderate Dehydration
    • Plays less than usual
    • Urinates less frequently (for infants, fewer than six wet diapers per day)
    • Parched, dry mouth
    • Fewer tears when crying
    • Sunken soft spot of the head in an infant or toddler

Stools will be loose if dehydration is caused by diarrhea; if dehydration is due to other fluid loss (vomiting, lack of fluid intake), there may be decreased bowel movements.

  • Severe Dehydration (in addition to the symptoms and signals already listed):
    • Very fussy
    • Excessively sleepy
    • Sunken eyes
    • Cool, discolored hands and feet
    • Wrinkled skin
    • Urinates only one to two times per day
  • Adult Dehydration includes some of the following signs and symptoms:
    • Dry mouth and dry lips
    • Dark Urine
    • Sunken eyes
    • Flushed skin
    • Cramps
    • Headache
    • Fatigue
  • Try to keep the sick person hydrated by offering them frequent small amounts of clear fluids. Such as : Water, clear broth, popsicles, Jell-O and other replacement fluids such as Pedialyte, Gatorade, Powerade, etc. (Be certain to seek doctors approval before giving replacement fluids to children or infants and always follow the label.
  • Promptly cleaning surfaces that are contaminated with vomit or other human waste.
    • Wear protective clothing including disposable gloves and an apron or gown during cleaning. It may also be beneficial to wear a mask when cleaning areas visibly soiled with vomit or feces.
    • Use paper towels to soak up excess liquid and dispose of towel and solid material in a plastic waste bag.
    • Clean contaminated area with detergent and hot water with a disposable cloth. Then, disinfect area with freshly made 1 to 10 bleach/water solution.   Phenols may be used on surfaces that cannot be cleaned with a bleach solution.
    • When finished, place gloves and cleaning cloths into a plastic waste bag. Seal bag and place it in the trash.
    • Remove protective clothing worn while cleaning and dispose of it in a sealed bag or launder it appropriately. Wash hands thoroughly using soap and water. Dry hands. Dispose of any food that may have been exposed or handled by an infected person.
  • Pay special attention to cleaning bathrooms, kitchen areas, and surfaces frequently touched (door knobs, table tops, handrails, etc.).
  • Contaminated carpet should be cleaned with detergent and hot water, and then disinfect appropriately. Carpet may also be steam cleaned.
    • Wear protective gear when cleaning. Wearing a mask may be beneficial.
    • Vacuum cleaning carpets and buffing floors are not recommended during an outbreak since it could potentially re-circulate the virus.
  • Wash soiled clothes and linens promptly.
    • Handle soiled linens and clothing as little as possible.
    • Carefully transport laundry in an enclosed and sanitary manner.
    • Promptly machine wash the laundry with detergent in hot water at the maximum cycle length and machine dry.
    • Linens soiled with vomit and/or feces should be washed separately from other linens.
    • Throw away soiled diapers or other disposable materials in separate bag.
  • Stay at home if you are sick with vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Persons in congregate settings such as long term care settings where the illness is suspected to be occurring are usually kept in their rooms for up to three days following their illness. This is called isolation.
  • Visitors to congregate setting are advised not to enter if they aren't feeling well.
  • Visits from children to congregate settings are discouraged.
  • Visitors who do enter a congregate setting are cautioned about the risk of exposure to GI illness and emphasize hand washing.

For more information, contact the Columbus Health Department at (706) 321-6108 or visit:

Source: Columbus Health Department