Is the stomach bug going around? CDC reports norovirus spike in Northeast

Cases of the highly contagious norovirus, also known as the stomach bug, are rising across the Northeast, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This region has the highest percentage of cases in the United States.


According to the CDC, every year, norovirus is responsible for inducing 19 to 21 million instances of vomiting and diarrhea in the United States, resulting in 465,000 emergency room visits,109,000 hospitalizations, and 900 fatalities.

Two weeks ago, Irving School in Highland Park, New Jersey, canceled classes due to a "gastrointestinal outbreak," reported.

Here is everything you need to know about the virus, including how it spreads and if you can get it twice.

What is norovirus?

Norovirus, also known as the "stomach flu" or "stomach bug", is a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea, the CDC said.

Anyone could get infected and sick with Norovirus. The virus not related to the flu, the agency said.

What are symptoms of norovirus?

Symptoms of norovirus include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches

"Generally people have stomach or gastrointestinal symptoms within 12 to 48 hours of being exposed," Dr. Purvi Parikh, clinical assistant professor of infectious diseases and immunology at NYU Langone, told FOX 5 NY in an interview.

How does norovirus spread? How do you get norovirus?

  • Having direct contact with someone with norovirus, such as by caring for them, sharing food or eating utensils with them, or eating food handled by them.
  • Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus.
  • Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with Norovirus and then putting your unwashed fingers in your mouth.

"It spreads from contact, by not washing hands properly," Parikh said. It can unfortunately live on surfaces for a long period of time too, that's what makes it so contiguous, and doesn't respond well to hand sanitzer."

How long does Norovirus live on surfaces?

Norovirus can stay on objects and surfaces and still infect people for days or weeks. It can also survive some disinfectants, making it hard to get rid of. 

How to avoid norovirus?

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables.
  • Cook shellfish thoroughly.
  • Stay home when sick and for two days after symptoms stop.
  • Avoid preparing food for others when sick and for two days after symptoms stop.

Norovirus treatment

The CDC says to drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid loss and prevent dehydration. If you or someone you are caring for is dehydrated, call a doctor.

"The last time these rates were this high were around the same time last year, so hopefully this is the peak and in a few weeks, it should start coming down," Parikh said.

Antibiotics will not help with norovirus illness because antibiotics do not work on viruses.

Can you get Norovirus twice?

There are many types of norovirus and you can get it more than once. 

Norovirus contagious period

You are contagious from the moment you begin feeling sick and for the first few days after you recover, the CDC said.