Where norovirus outbreaks occur

It’s a good idea to learn where norovirus outbreaks occur most, so you can take precautionary measures when you find yourself in those places. Here are some common places where norovirus outbreaks occur:


Contaminated food or water in restaurants can cause norovirus outbreaks, causing many to become sick. The culprit of such outbreaks is normally a food worker that has the virus and does not adequately wash his or her hands after using the bathroom. Touching fresh fruits and vegetables can certainly contaminate them (such as lemons for lemon water), and infect customers that ingest the food. Other foodborne outbreaks can occur at large gatherings like wedding receptions or family dinners.

Healthcare Facilities

It’s commonly reported that there are norovirus outbreaks among healthcare facilities, such as hospitals and nursing homes. In fact, over 50 percent of the United States outbreaks reported occur in long-term care facilities.[1] The outbreaks can be brought into the facility in a variety of ways. You may have a patient who comes in with the virus, an infected staff worker in the kitchen who contaminates the food, or an infected visitor. Due to the nature of the population in healthcare facilities, an outbreak can become dangerous to the residents who have weak immune systems or are elderly. Some outbreaks can be tough to contain and may last longer than outbreaks in other facilities.

Cruise Ships

If there is an outbreak of diarrhea on a cruise ship, it’s a 90 percent chance it is caused by norovirus. You’ve probably heard about an outbreak on a cruise ship at some point, as they’re fairly common and the media covers it nicely. It’s tough to keep norovirus from spreading on a cruise ship due to the fact that the large dining areas are shared, everyone is enclosed on the ship, and each week new passengers get on the ship. Norovirus can begin in the kitchen, with food workers transmitting it, contaminated food brought on the ship, passengers already infected with it, or passengers acquiring the virus while they are off exploring the islands for the day.


Outbreaks occur regularly in schools, daycare centers, prisons, colleges, and military compounds. If the outbreak is severe, centers will close down for a time period for people to get over the virus. It’s quite common for the military to catch the virus and in fact, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, plenty of U.S. Marines contracted norovirus.

[1] http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/trends-outbreaks.html