The most common symptoms are sudden onset of vomiting and watery diarrhea, although stomach cramps and pain also often occur. Some people experience fever and body aches. Symptoms usually start 12 to 48 hours after being exposed and typically last about 1 to 3 days.
Although symptoms usually only last 1 to 2 days in healthy individuals, norovirus infection can become quite serious in children, the elderly, and immune-compromised individuals. In some cases, severe dehydration, malnutrition, and even death can result from norovirus infection, especially among children, and among older and immune-compromised adults in hospitals and nursing homes.
Food service establishments are routinely linked to foodborne illness outbreaks, and out of the over 9,000 foodborne illness outbreaks reported to the CDC between 1998 to 2004 (a vast underestimation of disease burden), over half (52%) were associated with restaurants or delicatessens. Not surprisingly, noroviruses were identified in almost half of the foodborne outbreaks when a specific cause was determined, and restaurants were by far the most common setting/source for these outbreaks (64%). These findings have led the CDC and others to call upon the food service industry to instigate preventive measures and policies to curtail norovirus transmission in their facilities.
Yet noroviruses are especially difficult to manage once introduced into a retail foodservice or grocery facility. Sometimes described as the “perfect human pathogen,” these viruses are able to last for up to two weeks on surfaces, are resistant to most commercially available disinfectants, and are easily spread by touch. Only a few virus particles are needed to make someone sick. In the case of a retail food setting, the presence of a single norovirus-infected staff member or customer can, within hours, lead to numerous cases of disease in the local population. Logistically, this results in staff absences, temporary closures of facilities for disinfection, and the need to dispose of potentially contaminated food, although there are also broader impacts such as legal expenses and damage to brand.
The history of norovirus outbreaks has led the CDC and others to call upon the restaurant industry to instigate preventive measures and policies to curtail norovirus transmission in their facilities including handwashing, cleaning, and sanitizing, and implementing employee health policies.
Norovirus: Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Norovirus outbreaks. The Norovirus lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Norovirus and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $850 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our Norovirus lawyers have litigated Norovirus cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a number of food products and restaurants.