How Long Does Norovirus Live On Surfaces?

June 7, 2023by Jamie Browning0

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that can cause unpleasant symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, and stomach cramps. Understanding the characteristics of norovirus, including its symptoms and modes of transmission, is crucial in devising effective infection control measures.

One of the major concerns with norovirus is its ability to survive on surfaces, which can contribute to the occurrence of outbreaks. In this article, we will explore how long norovirus can survive on different surfaces.

We will also discuss other key aspects of the virus, including its contagious period and the importance of professional infection control services in effectively managing outbreaks.

What is norovirus?

Norovirus, commonly known as the “stomach flu” or “winter vomiting bug,” is a highly contagious virus that belongs to the Caliciviridae family.

It is the leading cause of gastroenteritis worldwide and causes an estimated 685 million cases each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Norovirus symptoms

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tiredness
  • Fever or chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
Young man having nausea at home. Feeling sick

Norovirus cell structure

Norovirus particles consist of a small protein shell encapsulating a single-stranded RNA genome. This unique structure allows the virus to withstand harsh environments and survive on surfaces for extended periods.

How does the norovirus infection spread?

Norovirus infections are primarily spread through three methods:

  1. Contaminated surfaces: The virus can survive on surfaces such as doorknobs and countertops that have been contaminated by an infected individual.
  2. Contaminated food: Norovirus can contaminate food at any stage of the preparation process, from handling to cooking to serving.
  3. Person-to-person contact: Norovirus spreads easily through direct person-to-person contact, particularly in crowded environments.

How long does norovirus live on surfaces?

Experts at Norton Healthcare advise that norovirus can live on hard or soft surfaces for roughly two weeks. This means that the virus can continue to infect people for days or even weeks through contaminated surfaces.

Button with virus around the elevator or lift.

Suggested reading: How To Test For Norovirus

What are the best cleaning products to kill norovirus?

The CDC advises that norovirus can survive certain disinfectants, making it hard to get rid of. To combat this, it is crucial to choose a high-quality disinfectant that is specifically designed to tackle norovirus, such as the Byotrol 4-in-1 multi-purpose spray. This powerful disinfectant is formulated to eliminate 99.9% of germs and viruses.

Regularly cleaning surfaces in your home and workplace using appropriate cleaning products is one of the most effective measures to prevent the spread of norovirus and minimise the risk of contamination.

By using a reliable disinfectant like Byotrol 4-in-1, you can enhance your cleaning routine and provide an added layer of protection against norovirus.

A selection of Byotrol products

TIP: You should always follow the instructions on the label carefully and wear the appropriate personal protective equipment when handling cleaning chemicals.

Why is norovirus difficult to eradicate?

Norovirus is difficult to kill for several reasons, including:

  • Robust survival capabilities: Norovirus has the ability to survive in various environments and withstand a wide range of temperatures. The virus has been shown to survive in freezing as well as high temperatures of up to 60°C.
  • Highly contagious: Norovirus spreads quickly and only a small amount of the virus is needed to cause infection.
  • Multiple modes of transmission: As outlined above, norovirus can be transmitted through various routes, including person-to-person contact, contaminated surfaces, and contaminated food.
  • Genetic diversity: Norovirus evolves rapidly, with multiple strains and variants circulating simultaneously.
  • Lack of long-term immunity: Recovering from a norovirus infection does not provide long-lasting immunity against future infections. People can be re-infected with different norovirus strains in a short space of time.

How long is norovirus contagious?

According to the guidance provided by the NHS, the period when norovirus is most contagious is from the onset of Norovirus symptoms until 48 hours after all symptoms have stopped. However, you can still be infectious for a brief period before and after this timeframe.

While the contagiousness of norovirus is most significant during this period, it’s worth noting that the virus can survive on surfaces for much longer. This highlights the importance of practising good hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus.

By following proper hygiene practices, such as regular handwashing with soap and water and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces, you can maintain a healthy environment and reduce the risk of infection.

Person washing their hands with soap and running water

Where is norovirus most common?

Norovirus is most commonly found in settings where people congregate, such as schools, childcare centres, nursing homes, hospitals, and cruise ships. The virus can easily spread in areas where there is close contact between individuals and opportunities for contamination of food or surfaces.

Outbreaks can occur in any geographical location and are not limited to specific regions or countries. It’s important to be aware that norovirus can affect anyone, regardless of age or location.

Is norovirus going around at the moment?

Norovirus infections tend to be more widespread during the winter season because people tend to spend more time indoors and in close proximity to others. This creates opportunities for the virus to spread easily from person to person.

Although norovirus outbreaks are commonly linked to the winter season, it is crucial to be aware that norovirus infections can occur at any time. It is therefore important to remain vigilant and adopt preventive measures to safeguard against the virus throughout the year.

Concerned about norovirus? Get in touch to arrange specialist infection control

At Ultima, we offer professional disease control and prevention services for Norovirus, Strep A, Covid-19, and Avian Flu. Our biohazard cleaners have more than 20 years of experience and will ensure that infectious pathogens are eliminated quickly, effectively, and discretely.

Stay one step ahead of norovirus spread with our specialised infection control service. We’re dedicated to helping you maintain impeccable hygiene standards, effectively safeguarding your employees against norovirus infections.

Get in touch to find out more about our norovirus disease control and prevention service or visit our website to browse our full range of specialist cleaning services.

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