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Posted by: OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers

With norovirus being the leading cause of outbreaks from contaminated food in the US, it makes it all the more important to be mindful of the signs to prevent the spread of infection. However, many of us might not be aware of those signs until it’s too late.

Before you know it, you and thousands of Americans are contaminated as health officials work tirelessly to contain the outbreak. Recognizing the early signs of norovirus might make the difference in controlling its spread.

What is Norovirus?

Norovirus is actually a group of several viruses that cause severe inflammation in the stomach and intestines. Your pain and discomfort can quickly become another’s as the virus spreads from person to person through the touching of contaminated surfaces or drinking and eating contaminated food or water.

People who don’t wash their hands are most likely to infect others.

The Early Signs of Norovirus

Identifying norovirus quickly is critical to avoid putting others at risk. You may experience several symptoms. However, norovirus begins with your initial exposure.


Before the onset of your symptoms, there are many places you could have been exposed to norovirus, including:

  • Restaurants – Around 70% of norovirus outbreaks occur from contaminated food. Infected workers who refuse to stay home could put guests in jeopardy by contaminating food or coming in close contact with others.
  • Hospitals – One of the most common places for norovirus outbreaks, hospitals could contain infected staff members, residents, or food served by hospital staff.
  • Cruise Ships – An area heavily covered in the media: cruise ships put tons of people within close quarters. Vacationers could bring norovirus on the ship, and it could live on surfaces for weeks.

When you feel your initial symptoms, retracing your steps could be an early sign that you contracted norovirus from one of these locations.

Initial Symptoms of Norovirus

After exposure, it might take a day or two for you to experience symptoms (12-48 hours). Once the virus sets in, you could start to suffer from the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Low-grade fever
  • Muscle pain

Although they have similar symptoms, stomach flu is a completely different virus caused by the influenza virus. You should visit your doctor to obtain a proper diagnosis.

Norovirus Could Impact Everyone Differently

The upside of norovirus is that symptoms only last for 24-48 hours. Young children, the elderly, and immunocompromised persons could suffer severe consequences. The downside of norovirus is that it’s extremely contagious. So, if you failed to stay home for those two days, you could have infected several others.

Norovirus Particles Could Remain for Weeks

You should also be aware that you can shed norovirus particles for weeks even after your symptoms have passed. Once you’re feeling better, you might ask a doctor to check a stool sample to check if you have norovirus still. It will allow you to report your case to the correct health officials.

What to Do if You Have Norovirus

If you’ve recently been to a restaurant, cruise, hospital, or other high-risk location, and you notice the early signs of norovirus, you must take the following steps to prevent an outbreak:

  • Seek Medical Help – First and foremost, you should visit your doctor so they can diagnose your symptoms. This may include tests or stool samples to see if you have norovirus. Depending on the state, your doctor might be required to report the outbreak to health officials.
  • Report Your Illness – Next, you want to make sure you report your case to the local health department. This is a critical part of the investigation process. Your information will help health officials pinpoint the source of the norovirus to contain it effectively.
  • Take Safety Precautions – You may be vomiting and having diarrhea. This could quickly dehydrate you. Therefore, you should drink plenty of fluids while you experience symptoms. Also, wash your hands thoroughly to prevent spreading the virus. Follow other medical directives as ordered by health professionals.

Get Help from a Norovirus Attorney

Norovirus could come and go fast but might leave a lasting impact. You might have had to take a couple of days off work to recover, resulting in lost wages. Furthermore, the hospital will charge you for getting treated if your symptoms were severe.

Without knowing the signs of norovirus, you could miss out on finding the liable parties. OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers will investigate your case and hold at-fault parties accountable for their actions. Contact us today at 888-828-7087.

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