Slow the Surging Spread of Norovirus

Slow the Surging Spread of Norovirus

Fatal cases of norovirus are increasing across the U.S., prompting facilities managers and custodial teams to increase cleaning frequencies and upgrade protocols to halt the spread and protect building occupants.

Slow the Surging Spread of Norovirus

Norovirus Outbreaks Increasing

Current data shows reports of norovirus infections rapidly increasing across the country.

Health officials point to the loosening of pandemic restrictions, a reduction in cleaning and disinfection frequencies, and a decline in hand hygiene compliance as probable contributors to the spike in cases.

According to The Hill;

Between Aug. 1, 2022, and Jan. 8, 2023, there were 225 norovirus outbreaks among the 14 states that participate in the CDC’s NoroSTAT reporting program, a significant increase over the same time period between Aug. and Jan. 2022, when there were only a reported 172 outbreaks.

These findings aren’t entirely unexpected.

Prevention measures implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic were likely effective in preventing norovirus outbreaks.

As pandemic restrictions have relaxed, the number of norovirus outbreaks has returned to levels similar to pre-pandemic years.

Norovirus outbreaks are increasing across the US: Which regions have it the worst?


Norovirus Spread

According to the CDC, Norovirus infections can occur if one inadvertently ingests tiny particles of feces or vomit from an infected individual.

When infected, the contaminated individual sheds billions of microscopic norovirus particles.

Norovirus typically spreads via:

  • Contaminated food or water,
  • Touching contaminated surfaces or objects, and
  • Touching one's mouth with their fingers.

Most of these incidents occur in restaurants, grocery stores with food bars, or other similar settings, where the virus can spread when a person with norovirus touches food using bare hands contaminated with fecal matter or vomit particles.

Norovirus can also spread;

  • Through vegetables and fruits harvested or watered with contaminated water or placed on a surface or counter with fecal matter or vomit particles, and;
  • From person to person by sharing food or utensils or caring for and cleaning up after an infected person.

Those with the virus are most contagious when they exhibit symptoms, particularly vomiting, and during the initial few days of recovery.

Nonetheless, an individual can transmit norovirus for up to two weeks after their symptoms have ceased--highlighting the need for ongoing cleaning and disinfection frequencies combined with strict hand hygiene compliance.


Prevention Methods

Norovirus spread can be arrested through a combination of:

  • Cleaning occupied spaces, especially restrooms, kitchens, break rooms, and cafeterias, every day with a soap-based detergent applied with microfiber.
  • Disinfect high-risk areas (bathrooms, food prep spaces, and dining areas) and high-contact fomites at least three times per day.
  • Increasing cleaning and disinfection rates during an outbreak.
  • Using disinfectant products on the EPA's List-G.
  • Documenting safe cleanup and contaminated material handling procedures to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Quarantining contaminated spaces until they have been thoroughly cleaned and aired out, preferably through a combination of forced mechanical and natural airflow.


References & Resources



Norovirus is a highly contagious and deadly illness that commonly infects children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.

The burden of illness worldwide is catastrophic.

According to the World Health Organization;

[...] the most comprehensive report to date on the impact of contaminated food on health and well-being are announced today in Geneva.

The report, which estimates the burden of foodborne diseases caused by 31 agents — bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins and chemicals — states that each year as many as 600 million, or almost 1 in 10 people in the world, fall ill after consuming contaminated food.

Of these, 420 000 people die, including 125 000 children under the age of 5 years.

The Eastern Mediterranean Region has the third highest estimated burden of foodborne diseases per population, after the African and South-East Asia Regions.

More than 100 million people living in the Region are estimated to become ill with a foodborne disease every year and 32 million of those affected are children under 5 years.

Diarrhoeal diseases (caused by E. coli, norovirus, Campylobacter and non-typhoidal Salmonella) account for 70% of the burden of foodborne disease.

WHO estimates global burden of foodborne diseases?

Norovirus infections are spiking nationwide due largely to the relaxation of pandemic cleaning and handwashing protocols.

One of the most common ways the pathogen is spread through a facility is via poor outcome cleaning methodology.

Onboarding and managing the requisite labor and material resources necessary to ensure the highest standards of cleanliness are achieved and maintained may prove cost-prohibitive for many organizations.

Outsourcing is a proven method for onboarding highly in-demand cleaning and disinfection services and experience for a fraction of the price of maintaining a similar service in-house.

If you would like more information regarding the effectiveness of high-performance infection prevention and control measures, or if you would like to schedule a free, no-obligation on-site assessment of your facility's custodial needs, contact us today for a free quote!

In Bakersfield, CA, call (661) 437-3253

In Fresno, CA, call (559) 206-1059

In Valencia, CA, or Santa Clarita, CA, call (661) 437-3253

In Palmdale, CA, or Lancaster, CA, call (661) 371-4756