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News & Events

Norovirus in Boston: What you need to know

12/11/2015

With norovirus being in the news in Boston, and the “season” beginning in earnest, the Infectious Disease team at Tufts Medical Center has put together the below basic information on the virus. We provide answers on the most frequently asked questions that we've received, information on what you should do if you become ill with a diarrheal illness and when you can return to school or work.

How contagious is norovirus?

  • It only takes a very small number of viral particles to make you sick, probably only 18-1000 viral particles.
  • Each gram (small amount) of stool of a sick person can contain over 1 Billion viral copies!
  • Virus can stay in the stool even after vomiting and diarrhea have stopped.

How can I keep myself from getting sick?

  • HAND HYGIENE!  Frequent handwashing, particularly after using the restroom and touching surfaces is important. Always maintain careful hand hygiene before and after touching food or food service items.
  • Clean your work surfaces frequently following your usual procedure.

Should I go to school or work with vomiting or diarrhea?

  • No.  You should also let your school or work know that you have these symptoms and go home promptly if they develop while you are there. 

When can I return to work after being ill with a “stomach bug” (norovirus)?

  • You can return to school or work 48 hours after your last symptom (last time you vomited or had diarrhea), even if you feel well.  Remember, you can still shed virus even if you feel okay, putting others at risk for infection. 
  • When you return, remember to keep washing your hands!   
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