How Long Does the Norovirus Last

How Long Does the Norovirus Last?

The norovirus is one of the most common viruses that infect humans. The virus causes vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever. Most commonly infected are children under 5 years old and adults over 65 years old. The illness usually lasts from 2 to 7 days but can last longer than 10 days or even up to 21 days if left untreated. There have been cases where the illness lasted for 30 days!

There are two types of noroviruses: the common norovirus and the rarer norovirus enteritis. Common noroviruses cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and stomach pain. Rarely they can lead to dehydration and other complications. Both types of viruses are spread through contact with an infected person’s feces (faeces).

Noroviruses are very infectious. They survive on surfaces for at least 6 hours before becoming inactive. So, when you touch something contaminated with vomit, diarrhea or any other type of stool, your body will immediately start producing antibodies against these viruses which will protect you from getting sick. These antibodies stay in your system for about 3 weeks so it is possible to get sick again within this time period.

Noroviruses survive even better in warm and humid conditions. They are very resilient viruses, they can survive for at least 12 hours on objects and up to 6 days on fabrics! Because of their resilience, it is extremely common for people to get reinfected from the same source. After getting sick, they can still shed these viruses for up to 3 weeks.

How long does Norovirus last on surfaces?

These viruses can survive high temperatures. They have been known to survive on metal, plastic and glass for about 2 weeks. If the virus touches foods, it can survive for over 1 month. On fabric, the virus can survive for 1 to 2 weeks depending on the humidity of the surrounding air.

If you get sick with the norovirus, be sure to wash your clothing and bed sheets as soon as possible since the virus is known to survive quite well in them.

How long is Norovirus contagious for?

The noroviruses are extremely contagious. Most people who are exposed to the virus (for example by shaking hands with an infected person) will start to feel sick within 24 to 48 hours. The virus can be shed from 1 day before getting sick until a few days after the sickness.

A good way to decrease the spread of the virus is frequent hand washing.

Sources & references used in this article:

Long-term features of norovirus gastroenteritis in the elderly by JL Goller, A Dimitriadis, A Tan, H Kelly… – Journal of Hospital …, 2004 – Elsevier

Sources of airborne norovirus in hospital outbreaks by M Alsved, CJ Fraenkel, M Bohgard… – Clinical Infectious …, 2020 – academic.oup.com

Norovirus infectivity in humans and persistence in water by SR Seitz, JS Leon, KJ Schwab, GM Lyon… – Applied and …, 2011 – Am Soc Microbiol

Norovirus immunity and the great escape by K Debbink, LC Lindesmith, EF Donaldson… – PLoS Pathog, 2012 – journals.plos.org

Burden of norovirus in healthcare facilities and strategies for outbreak control by A Kambhampati, M Koopmans, BA Lopman – Journal of Hospital Infection, 2015 – Elsevier

Norovirus by E Robilotti, S Deresinski, BA Pinsky – Clinical microbiology …, 2015 – Am Soc Microbiol

Mechanisms of GII. 4 norovirus persistence in human populations by LC Lindesmith, EF Donaldson, AD LoBue, JL Cannon… – Plos med, 2008 – journals.plos.org

Clinical characteristics of nosocomial norovirus outbreaks in Hong Kong by OTY Tsang, ATY Wong, CB Chow, RWH Yung… – Journal of Hospital …, 2008 – Elsevier