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Norovirus Infection: Prevention and Control

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Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that typically causes vomiting and/or diarrhea. It can be spread when an infected food worker contaminates a food item during food preparation or serving.  It can also be spread directly from person-to-person. During the winter months, illnesses related to norovirus tend to increase and cause outbreaks associated with group gatherings, especially those involving food service such as group holiday events.

If a norovirus outbreak is suspected at your facility, review Article 3 of the California Retail Food Code (CalCode) regarding Employee Health and Hygiene and promptly take the following actions:

  • Immediately exclude and/or restrict any food employee with vomiting and/or diarrhea from working with food, food utensils, and food equipment until they are symptom free for at least 48 hours.
  • Report to the Department of Environmental Health if two or more people from separate households (from your staff or patrons) experience acute gastrointestinal illness within a 24-48 hour period.  Prompt reporting of suspect outbreaks can help stop the spread of norovirus and protect the health of those working and eating at your facility.
  • Promptly disinfect food contact surfaces, restrooms, break rooms, common areas and frequently touched surfaces with a disinfectant effective against norovirus.
    For additional information about cleaning and disinfection against norovirus, refer to the norovirus guidance document.

Please immediately report suspected outbreaks to the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health (DEH) at 858-505-6814 or to the Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) at 619-692-8499. These Departments are staffed by knowledgeable environmental health specialists, epidemiologists, and public health nurses who are trained to help you respond to an outbreak by recommending effective infection control measures.