About Norovirus (Gastroenteritis)

Norovirus is a contagious virus that causes your stomach and/or intestines to get inflamed (acute gastroenteritis). This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States. Norovirus is also the most common cause of foodborne-disease outbreaks in the United States.

How is it transmitted?

Norovirus is normally transmitted by fecal-oral route, through direct person-to-person contact and indirect transmission through contaminated food, water, or environmental surfaces. This usually happens by:

  • Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus
  • Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus, then putting your fingers in your mouth
  • Having contact with someone who is infected with norovirus (e.g. caring for, sharing food, or eating utensils with someone with norovirus illness)

The incubation period for norovirus is 24-48 hours, with the duration of illness lasting 12-60 hours.

Signs and symptoms

The most common symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, fever, headache, and body aches. Dehydration is the most common complication of norovirus.


There is no specific medicine to treat people with norovirus infection. Viral gastroenteritis cannot be treated with antibiotics because it is a viral (not bacterial) infection. If you have gastroenteritis, you should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost from vomiting and diarrhea. This will help prevent dehydration.


  • Hand washing, especially after using the bathroom and before handling food.
  • Clean and disinfect contaminated areas.

If you think you have norovirus illness, you can contact Student Health Service (215-746-3535) if symptoms persist or if you have any questions about your symptoms or treatment.




Back to Disease Updates

(updated 8/31/2015)