Norovirus outbreaks occur throughout the year, but we are currently in peak season, as they are most prevalent from October to April.1 Recently, norovirus has been making the headlines with suspected and confirmed outbreaks in schools2 and on cruise ships.3 As of March 2023, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported the highest percent of positive norovirus tests in the past 12 months among participating U.S. laboratories.4

Although reported infections are higher than they were this time last year, CDC officials say the total number of outbreaks this season remains within the ranges reported in previous years.5

Norovirus can be a very unpleasant illness, causing significant discomfort and disruption to daily life. With norovirus being a leading cause of vomiting and diarrhea from acute gastroenteritis in the United States,1 healthcare providers serve a critical role in providing effective education about this virus. With Spring Break travel in full swing and summer vacation right around the corner, healthcare providers and others may receive questions about staying healthy during travel, especially related to cruise ships. 

To help your patients or members stay prepared, here’s how you can address eight common questions around norovirus: 

  1. What is norovirus?
    Explain that norovirus is a highly contagious virus that can cause gastroenteritis, which is inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Let them know it is often referred to as “food poisoning” or the “stomach flu,” but it is not related to influenza.6

  2. How does norovirus spread?
    Inform your patients or members that norovirus particles are found in feces and vomit and spread through contaminated food and water, on contaminated surfaces, and through contact with infected people.7 Outbreaks are common in places with high person-to-person contact, such as healthcare facilities, daycares, schools, and cruise ships.8

  3. What are symptoms of norovirus?
    Let your patients or members know that symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and sometimes fever, body aches, and headache. Symptoms typically develop 12 to 48 hours after exposure and can last for 1 to 3 days.9  

  4. Can norovirus be prevented?
    Good hygiene and sanitization are the best ways to prevent the spread of norovirus. Encourage your patients and members to:
    • Wash their hands frequently with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before eating or preparing food. Alert patients that hand sanitizer does not work against norovirus. 
    • Cook seafood thoroughly and wash all fruits and vegetables before consumption. 
    • Inform them to avoid preparing food or caring for others if they are already infected. Wait at least 2 to 3 days after recovery to resume these activities. 
    • Immediately clean and sanitize all surfaces after vomiting or having diarrhea. 
    • Wash soiled laundry immediately. Use detergent and high heat wash and dry cycles.10

  5. How is norovirus treated?
    There is no specific treatment for norovirus, but patients or members should be advised to stay at home, rest, and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.11 

  6. When should someone seek medical attention?
    Advise your patients or members to seek medical attention if they are unable to keep fluids down, have severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea, are vomiting blood or have blood in their stool, have severe belly pain, haven’t urinated in 6 to 8 hours, or if they have signs of dehydration such as feeling thirsty, dizzy, or confused.12

  7. Who is at higher risk for severe illness with norovirus?
    People of all ages can get infected and become sick with norovirus, but young children, elderly adults, and people with other medical illnesses are at an increased risk for a more severe or prolonged infection.13 

  8. What precautions should you take when traveling?
    Advise patients and members to follow preventative measures discussed above, avoid traveling when they are sick, and stay away from people who appear sick. In areas where sanitation and hygiene are poor, recommend drinking bottled beverages without ice and only eat food that has been thoroughly cooked.14 People who become sick on a cruise ship should contact the ship’s medical clinic and follow their instructions.15

How Krames can help 

Krames stays on top of trends with award-winning, evidence-based patient education. We have specific education on norovirus, gastroenteritis, and related symptoms. With engaging clinical content in digital, video, and print formats, patients and caregivers can be taught based on their preferred learning style. Krames’ education is proven to help enhance health outcomes, increase patient satisfaction, and foster a trusted provider-patient relationship.  

Krames customers can access a list of norovirus and gastrointestinal infections related content through their account manager or by visiting the Client Support site. Those who are not Krames customers, but are interested in learning more about Krames’ patient education, can connect with a Krames representative at

 Ask about how we can support your patient or member education efforts