Last Updated MARCH 2024

Norovirus FAQ

What should I do during a norovirus outbreak?

What exactly is norovirus?

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that can be the cause of gastrointestinal illnesses like vomiting and diarrhea. It can sometimes be referred to as the “stomach flu” but that can be a misleading term because the flu is caused by the influenza virus.1 Norovirus outbreaks are responsible for 19-21 million illnesses per year, including 900 deaths and nearly half a million emergency room visits. Norovirus is also the leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States.2

How does norovirus spread?

Norovirus is spread by coming into contact with particles from the feces or vomit of an infected individual. This can happen through caring for someone who is ill, eating or drinking food that has been contaminated by norovirus, or touching contaminated surfaces or objects and then exposing yourself through touching your mouth. Symptomatic people are contagious, but even those who are starting to feel better are also contagious for several days. Research has shown that someone can still spread norovirus for two weeks after feeling better.3

How do I help prevent the spread of norovirus?

There are some primary ways to prevent the spread of norovirus, including limiting exposure to infected people, practicing good hand hygiene and stepping up surface disinfection efforts.4

Limiting Exposure:

First and foremost, someone who is sick should ideally stay home. They should also not prepare food or provide healthcare for others if they are sick, especially when working in places such as daycares, schools, long-term care facilities and restaurants. Remember that norovirus particles can continue to spread even after symptoms have resolved, so extra precautions may be needed.5

Practicing Good Hand Hygiene:

Hand washing is a key step in preventing the spread of norovirus. Hands should be washed well and often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds of scrubbing, particularly after using the toilet (or changing diapers), before eating or handling food, and especially after taking care of someone who is ill. Hand sanitizer is not approved by the FDA to kill norovirus, so removal of norovirus via washing hands with soap and water should be prioritized.4,5

Stepping Up Surface Disinfection:

Norovirus can be a tricky organism to kill. The important thing to know is that products that kill norovirus will specifically list that organism on the product label along with the appropriate directions for use. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) List G also contains a list of registered antimicrobial products effective against norovirus.6 Make sure to use cleaning materials that are compatible with the type of germicidal active ingredient being used. For example, bleach can be highly effective in killing norovirus, but can be rendered ineffective when saturated and then applied to the surface with a wiping material such as cotton or microfiber.7

Does Kimberly-Clark Professional (KCP) make any hand hygiene products that can help prevent the spread of norovirus?

Yes, KCP makes a wide variety of hand soaps designed to meet the varied needs of offices, schools, factories, restaurants, high traffic locations, hospitality and healthcare facilities. KCP makes effective, efficient products with a strong focus on gentleness to the skin such that hand hygiene is not negatively impacted by discomfort. These products are also all hygienically sealed so that hygiene is not compromised during the process of refilling dispensers. KCP also provides high quality restroom products such as single-use paper towels to promote hygienic drying of hands after washing. As wet hands spread more germs than dry hands, it is important to dry them thoroughly.8

Remember that hand sanitizer is not recommended as an effective means of killing norovirus.

Does Kimberly-Clark Professional (KCP) make any surface hygiene products that could help in the disinfection of norovirus?

Yes, KCP has the #1 closed bucket wiping system in North America, WetTask. WetTask has a variety of codes that are compatible with common disinfectant chemistries. WetTask allows users to create their own pre-saturated wipes with their own most preferred and trusted biocidal solutions. WetTask also has an updated product selection tool that makes it easy to pair the right base sheet with the preferred disinfection chemistry. No matter what products are chosen, customers should make sure they are using antimicrobial chemistries with labels that specifically list “norovirus” on the product label.

Are there any additional Kimberly-Clark Professional (KCP) products that might be relevant in managing norovirus outbreaks?

Yes, KCP also manufactures high quality PPE such as disposable gloves, N95 particulate respirators, and protective apparel and eyewear.* Cleaning areas potentially contaminated with norovirus while wearing protective gloves such as Kimtech Polaris Nitrile Exam Gloves can help protect your hands from becoming contaminated as well as from potential chemical exposure 5*.

When it comes to hand and surface hygiene, Kimberly-Clark Professional can meet your needs. Ask your Kimberly-Clark Professional representative to help you choose the right hygiene solution for your business.

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4. Barclay L, Park GW, Vega E, Hall A, Parashar U, Vinjé J, Lopman B. “Infection control for norovirus,” Clin Microbiol Infect. 2014 Aug; 20(8):731-40.
7. Environmental Cleaning Supplies and Equipment | Environmental Cleaning in Global Healthcare Settings | HAI | CDC
8. Findon DRP, Miller TE, “Residual moisture determines the level of touch-contact-associated bacterial transfer following hand washing,” Epidemiol. Infect., 1997, Volume 119: 319-325.
* Not for Medical Use