Norovirus Has Many Names
You may hear norovirus illness called "food poisoning" or "stomach flu." Food poisoning can be caused by noroviruses. But, other germs and chemicals can also cause food poisoning.
Norovirus illness is not related to the flu (influenza), which is a respiratory illness caused by influenza virus.
Norovirus is a very contagious virus. You can get norovirus from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed (acute gastroenteritis). This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up.
Anyone can be infected with norovirus and get sick. Also, you can have norovirus illness many times in your life. Norovirus illness can be serious, especially for young children and older adults.
Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States. Each year, it causes 19-21 million illnesses and contributes to 56,000-71,000 hospitalizations and 570-800 deaths. Norovirus is also the most common cause of foodborne-disease outbreaks in the United States.
The best way to help prevent norovirus is to practice proper hand washing and general cleanliness.