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Fact sheet - Health conditions directory

Noroviruses are a group of viruses that can cause gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines) with diarrhoea, stomach pain and vomiting. Common names used for gastroenteritis due to norovirus are 'gastric flu' or 'stomach flu', 'winter vomiting' and 'viral gastro'.

Noroviruses are found in the faeces or vomit of infected people. People can become infected with the virus in several ways, including:

  • eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus
  • touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus, and then placing their hand in their mouth
  • small airborne particles from projectile vomiting
  • having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms (for example, when caring for someone with illness, or sharing foods or eating utensils with someone who is ill).

Anyone can become infected with these viruses. There are many different strains of norovirus, which makes it difficult for a person's body to develop long-lasting immunity. Therefore, norovirus illness can recur throughout a person's lifetime.

People working in day-care centres or nursing homes should pay special attention to children or residents who have norovirus illness. This virus is very contagious and can spread rapidly throughout such environments.

Public health management guidelines


    Attending medical practitioners/medical superintendents (or delegates)

    To notify two or more associated cases of gastroenteritis, or where gastroenteritis is diagnosed in a food handler.

    Notification resources

    Resources for health professionals

        Last updated: 5 June 2023

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