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Extension > Food > Food Safety > Preserving and Preparing > Safe Meals > Prevent the Spread of Norovirus During the Holidays

Preparing Safe Meals

Prevent the Spread of Norovirus During the Holidays

Carol Ann Burtness, Extension Educator — Food Safety

Revised February 2011 by Carol Ann Burtness. Peer reviewed 2012 by Suzanne Driessen, Extension Educator — Food Safety

What is Norovirus?

During the holidays, make sure your family and friends go home with only a mild case of overeating and not a foodborne illness. Norovirus is currently the leading cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in Minnesota. An outbreak can easily happen during the holidays when there is contact with more foods and more people.

This highly contagious virus is usually spread by direct person-to-person contact or through contaminated food. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea with a mild fever and chills. Symptoms usually disappear after a couple days, but infected people can still spread the disease up to two weeks after symptoms end.

Outbreaks usually occur when someone eats food or drinks liquids that were handled by an infected person who did not wash hands properly. People also become infected after touching contaminated surfaces, objects (e.g. serving utensils), raw foods or ready-to-eat foods (e.g. salads, vegetable trays, cookies) and then touching their mouth or eating without washing their hands first. Food served buffet-style is an easy way to share contaminated food items.

Handwashing is important
before preparing food, before
eating and after using the bathroom.

The best way to prevent the spread of this virus is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for 15-20 seconds. Handwashing is important before preparing food, before eating and after using the bathroom. Also, wash your hands before and after changing diapers or helping someone who is ill.

Prevention strategies of norovirus during the holidays

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