There are a number of ways we can get sick with Norovirus.
Firstly, we can get it directly through what is known as the Faecal Oral Route: This basically means particles of virus from infectious poo and vomit get your mouth – usually through hands touching the mouth- and enter there. This can be through direct contact with poo and vomit but it can also happen through indirect means- Keep reading!
Secondly, we can catch it from the air! Norovirus can spread through aerolised particles when vomiting occurs or when a toilet, filled with vomit or diarrhoea is flushed. The suspended virus particles that go in your mouth or that rest on your lips are then swallowed.
Thirdly, you can get sick via the indirect Faecal Oral Route. An example of this is when aerolised particles from toilets flushing or from a vomit land on surfaces that hands then touch (think: toilet seats, flush buttons, toilet door handles, toys and other household surfaces). Other common areas where Norovirus can lurk are taps, telephones and door handles, liquid soap dispensers. The virus particles can get there by contaminated hands.
Finally, food and water can get infected with Norovirus which can then lead to you getting sick. In fact, “food poisoning” is frequently sickness with Norovirus, spread by someone ill, handling your food. Norovirus is actually the most common cause of food born viral gastroenteritis!
Water transmission can occur through tap water (an outbreak from this recently occurred recently in New Zealand), swimming pool water and lakes. Outbreaks have even occurred from water fountains in children’s play areas.
Yeah. I know. It really sucks…it makes you want to stay at home and never leave again…
References are below, because I’m new to this I haven’t worked out how to intext ref here on WordPress, but I’m more than happy to link fact to refs if you want more info.
Barker J, Vipondb I, Bloomfiled S (2004) Effects of cleaning and disinfection in reducing the spread of Norovirus contamination via environmental surfaces Journal of Hospital Infection 58, 42–49
Chessbrough J, Barkiss-Jones L, Brown D (1997) Possible prolonged environmental survival of small round structured viruses. Journal Hospital Infections 35:325—326
Hoebe C, Vennema H, Husman A, Duynhoven Y (2004) Norovirus Outbreak among Primary school children who had played in a water fountain Journal of Infectious Diseases 189:15 pp699-705
Lopman B, Reacher M, Vipond I, Sarangi J, Brown D(2004) Clinical Manifestation of Norovirus Gastroenteritis in Health Care Settings Clinical Infectious Diseases 39:318–24
Marks P, Vipond I, Carlisle D, Deakin D, Fey R, Caul E (2000) Evidence for airborne transmission of Norwalk-like virus (NLV) in a hotel restaurant Epidemiolg Infect 124: 481—487
Murata T, Katsushima N, Mizuta K, Muraki Y, Hongo S, Matsuzaki Y (2007)Prolonged Norovirus Shedding in Infants 6 Months of Age With Gastroenteritis The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 26:1 pp46-49
Nygard K, Torven M, Ancker C, Knauth S, Hedlund K, Giesecke J, Andersson Y, Svensson L (2003) Emerging Genotype (GGIIb) of Norovirus in Drinking Water, Sweden Emerging Infectious Diseases 9(12): 1548–1552.