Norovirus is a contagious virus that’s transmitted through:

  • food
  • water
  • surfaces
  • close contact with infected people

It causes unpleasant symptoms, such as:

  • severe diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • abdominal pain

Usually, norovirus passes within a couple of days, but in some cases, it can linger for a while.

Read on to find out how long this virus typically lasts, and when you should see a healthcare provider for your symptoms

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms usually start 12 to 48 hours after you’re exposed to the norovirus. For most healthy people, norovirus symptoms last 1 to 3 days.

But for some, the virus can remain in the intestines for weeks or months and cause lingering inflammatory bowel problems, according to a 2018 report published in the journal Science.

Usually, norovirus isn’t life threatening, and you won’t need any type of treatment to recover.

However, some older adults, babies, or people with other health conditions can develop complications, such as severe dehydration, that require medical attention and can even lead to death.

Norovirus is highly contagious.

People with the infection shed billions of virus particles in their stool and vomit, yet, it only takes as few as 10 virus particles to cause an infection.

If you have norovirus, you’re contagious from the moment your symptoms start until at least 3 days after recovery. Some people might be contagious for as long as 2 weeks after they recover.

To help lower your chances of transmitting the virus to others:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the norovirus can remain on objects and surfaces and be transmitted to other people for days or weeks.

What’s more, some disinfectants aren’t successful at killing the virus.

The CDC recommends that you routinely sanitize and clean counters, utensils, and surfaces before preparing food.

Use a chlorine bleach solution with a concentration of 1,000 to 5,000 ppm (5 to 25 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water).

You can also use other disinfectants that are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as effective against norovirus.

You should see a healthcare provider if your symptoms are severe or don’t go away within a few days.

Also, signs of dehydration require a visit to your healthcare provider.

Signs may include:

  • fatigue or lethargy
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth or throat
  • decreased amounts of urine

Kids who are dehydrated might cry with few or no tears, or be unusually sleepy or cranky.

Antibiotics only work for bacterial infections, they’re not an effective treatment for norovirus.

Your healthcare provider will probably recommend rest and lots of fluids to prevent dehydration.

If you’re unable to drink enough liquids, you might need to receive them intravenously, or through an IV. Sometimes, healthcare providers will suggest an over-the-counter (OTC) anti-diarrheal medication.

If you get the norovirus, you can expect to feel bad for about 1 to 3 days. Some people may take longer to recover.

There’s no treatment for this virus. However, it’s important to see a healthcare provider immediately if your symptoms are severe or persistent. They can help to create a plan for managing your symptoms.