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5 Ways to Prevent the Spread of Norovirus

Updated on April 1, 2016

No More Wretched Retching!

Anyone who ever comes down with norovirus knows immediately that they will do anything within their power never to come down with it again. The symptoms of this noxious illness include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, intense abdominal pain, muscle aches, lethargy, headaches, and an intense desire to roll over and die.

While most medical websites specify a recovery window of two to three days, they fail to tell you they are referring to recovery from the more obvious symptoms of fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. Plan for a bout of norovirus to keep you down for at least a week. After your initial recovery, you still need to contend with weakness and an inability to eat regular meals. Time is needed for your gastric system to reestablish normal patterns of operation and for you to rebuild your strength.

Norovirus is extremely contagious and can wipe out whole families in a matter of hours. A person becomes contagious at the first sign of symptoms and remains so for up to three days following the last session of vomiting or diarrhea. Most people are infected by those who think they are "well" and carry their germs into public.

Norovirus is resistant to most cleaners and disinfectants and can live for up to two weeks on contaminated surfaces. The best and only known "cure" for norovirus is never to get it in the first place.

Here are some possible ways to defeat this nasty bug.

1. Oregano Oil

Studies found that oregano oil breaks down the outside structure of the virus allowing other antimicrobial agents to enter the organism and destroy it. An effective method of applying oregano is in the use of hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizers made from a combination of oregano oil and other essential oils with antiviral properties are likely to be effective.

Make your own hand sanitizer from common ingredients found at your local store. Apply it after you come in contact with surfaces such as shopping carts, doors, or keypads. Since the alcohol in sanitizer is drying to the skin, you may need to apply a light moisturizer after use.

Hand Sanitizer Recipe

Combine together:

¼ cup aloe vera gel

¼ tsp glycerine

¾ Tbsp rubbing alcohol

10 drops oregano essential oil

10 drops rosemary essential oil

The oregano oil will weaken the virus, and the rosemary oil will act as a secondary antiviral agent. The alcohol in the mixture effectively destroys all manner of bacteria and viruses.

2. Lemon Juice

Human norovirus cannot be grown in the lab so it is very difficult to conduct tests for effective deterrents. Quite by accident, one researcher discovered that citric acid binds to the virus and therefore reduces its efficacy. Though more tests need to be conducted, it appears that using cleaners incorporating lemon juice or lemon oil may prevent the spread of norovirus.(1)

Some commercial cleaners include lemon oil but in order to ensure a proper amount of this necessary ingredient, make your own disinfectant cleanser.

All-Purpose Cleaner Recipe

Combine in a spray bottle:

2 Tbsp castile soap

20 drops lemon essential oil

½ cup white vinegar

3-4 cups water

Use the cleaner to wipe down all kitchen and bathroom surfaces, as well as doorknobs, light switches, and even the doorbell.

3. Bleach

The use of bleach to eliminate norovirus on contaminated surfaces has been proven in case studies and confirmed in published literature.(2) The correct ratio of bleach to water is needed for it to be effective. Use 1 part bleach to 10 parts water in your mixture.

Thoroughly clean surfaces such as bathroom toilets, sinks, and floors after each episode of vomiting or diarrhea. Vigilant attention to this will prevent the spread of the virus among other people coming in contact with those surfaces. Remember to wipe doorknobs and light switches.

Keep in mind that bleach is a very powerful chemical. Properly ventilate small rooms suchas bathrooms when using bleach-based cleaners. Fumes can be noxious and overpowering.

Hand Washing
Hand Washing

4. Wash Your Hands

While hand washing may seem obvious, proper hygiene is one of the most under-utilized methods of preventing disease, and, ironically enough, it is also the most effective. Most people wash their hands after using a public restroom but forget to wash their hands after pushing a shopping cart, or entering their PIN on a keypad.

Proper hand washing involves at least 20 seconds of scrubbing with soap and warm water. Push up your sleeves and wash at least three inches past your wrists onto your forearms. Use a disposable paper towel (even at home) or a hot air dryer to dry your hands. Do not touch any surface such as door handles or light switches with your bare hands after they have been washed.

Communal hand towels in your home bathroom are not a good idea during bouts of sickness. Germs are easily spread through contact with the towel.

5. Lavender Oil

Your hands are not the only part of your body to come in contact with germs. One of the best ways to prevent sickness from spreading is to bathe either the infected person or those wishing to avoid infection in a bath augmented with lavender oil.

Antivirals prevent attachment of the virus to the host cell and inhibit reproduction or growth of the virus. Lavender is a potent antiviral and antibacterial and may be effective in preventing the spread of norovirus.

Place 10 drops of lavender oil or use a product such as Dr. Teal’s Lavender Epsom Salts in your bath. The by-product of this remedy is a relaxing, soothing, ease of muscle aches and other symptoms for someone who is already sick. For everyone else, it is just possible you won’t ever have to experience the pain that is norovirus.

Norovirus is highly contagious and highly undesirable. Avoid sick people at all costs and do not venture into places where known cases have occurred. Gird up your defenses and just maybe you will make it through this season without suffering from the “great stomach plague”. Use the five suggestions above to help you prevent the spread of norovirus.

Do you have suggestions on the easing of symptoms associated with the "stomach flu"? Tell us about your norovirus experience.



1 Barker J, Vipond IB, Bloomfield SF. Effects of cleaning and disinfection in reducing the spread of norovirus contamination via environmental surfaces. Journal of Hospital Infection. 58:42-49,2004.


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