Differences Between Norovirus & Seasonal Influenza

Norovirus Infection 

(“stomach bug”) 

Influenza (“the flu” NOT stomach flu) 
What causes it? A virus that affects the stomach and intestines. A virus that affects the respiratory system (lungs).
How common is it? 23 million cases per year. Estimated to impact anywhere between 5-20% of the US population per year. 
What are the symptoms? Sudden onset of nausea, vomiting and/or watery diarrhea with cramps. 

Low-grade fever, chills and body aches sometimes occur.

Sudden onset of fever (up to 104° F). Headache, sore throat, cough, body aches, congestion.

Vomiting and diarrhea not common.

How long does it last? Anywhere between 24 and 72 hours.

The virus circulating in Mesa County that’s acting a lot like norovirus can be even more fast-moving, with symptoms resolving in anywhere from 12-24 hours.

Typically between 3 and 7 days, often longer. 
Is it serious?  Rarely causes severe complications. Dehydration is the most common complication, particularly among young children and the elderly. Usually gets better on its own but can cause severe complications, especially among: 

-young children

-the elderly 

-pregnant women

-people with health problems (asthma, chronic lung and/or heart disease, diabetes, etc.). 

How is it prevented?  No vaccine is available for norovirus.

Anyone with norovirus symptoms should wait at least 24 hours after their last episode of vomiting and/or diarrhea before preparing food for others, if you can, wait 48 hours.

Wash hands with soap and water after using the toilet or changing diapers, and before preparing food or eating.

A vaccine is available but needs to be repeated each flu season.

Anyone with flu symptoms should stay home from work and school until at least 24 hours after the fever is gone.

Wash hands frequently with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Cover coughs and sneezes with the elbow or shoulder.

*Information from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Winnebago County Health Department (Illinois), Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment,  and Mesa County Public Health.