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Diseases & Topics

Norovirus

Outbreak Management - Disinfecting Your Home

Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause acute gastroenteritis in humans. The symptoms of norovirus infection include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping and low-grade fever. Noroviruses are transmitted through the fecal-oral route—either by consumption of fecally contaminated food or water, direct person-to-person spread, or environmental contamination. Norovirus is very contagious and can also be spread through tiny droplets of material in the air (aerosols).

Cleaning Procedures

If you or someone in your home has been exposed to and has symptoms of a norovirus, it is important to thoroughly clean and disinfect your living environment to prevent others from becoming ill.

Preparation is important. Be sure to use disposable gloves, a mask, a form of eye protection and protective clothing while thoroughly cleaning. Keep children away from the area before cleaning and as you clean.

It is best to use chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite-NaOCl) as the main disinfecting agent (other types of disinfectants are not effective at killing the virus). Use a new, unopened bottle of chlorine bleach and prepare the cleaning solution as indicated below under "Concentrations," using fresh bleach each day. Discard unused portions. (Open bottles of chlorine bleach will lose effectiveness after 30 days, so use a new bottle of bleach every 30 days for accurate concentrations.) Warning: chlorine bleach may damage fabrics and other surfaces. Please spot-test the area before applying to visible surfaces.

Concentrations:

  • For stainless steel, food/mouth contact items: 1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water.
  • For non-porous surfaces such as tile floors, counter-tops, sinks, etc.: one-third (1/3) cup of chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water.
  • For porous surfaces such as wooden floors: one and two-thirds (1 2/3) cups of chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water.

Leave the bleach solution on the surface for 10 to 20 minutes, and then rinse the area well with clean water. After the disinfection process is complete, close off the area, if possible, for at least one hour. If there are windows, air out the area.

Wash and sanitize hands thoroughly immediately after cleaning.

Cleaning Procedures for Special Cases and Areas

For areas exposed to vomiting or feces (poop) contamination:

  • Use paper towels to soak up as much of the vomit or feces as possible, being careful not to drip or splash the material.
  • Clean and disinfect the entire area with disposable cloths.
  • Dispose of all waste material in sealed plastic bags.

For carpeted areas:

  • Remove all visible contamination with paper towels or other absorbent material. Discard in a plastic bag to minimize aerosols; seal the bag and put in a garbage can.
  • Steam-clean the carpet to 170 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes or 212 degrees Fahrenheit for one minute to completely inactivate the virus.

For linens, clothing or textiles:

  • Carefully remove any vomit or feces (poop) to minimize aerosols.
  • Keep contaminated and uncontaminated clothes separate.
  • Handle soiled linens and laundry as little as possible.
  • Wash contaminated items in a pre-wash cycle. Then, use a regular wash cycle—using detergent—and dry separately from uncontaminated clothing at high temperature (greater than 170 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Make sure that all soiled linens, clothing or textiles are kept away from clean items.

For surfaces corrodible or damageable by bleach:

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends phenolic solutions (such as concentrated Lysol® or concentrated Pinesol®), mixed at two to four times the manufacturer's recommended concentration, as best for surfaces that could be damaged by bleach.

Source: Division of Environmental Health, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dec. 2008. Reviewed and adapted by Division of Public Health, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Oct. 2011.

For Additional Information