Norovirus ain't always over when it's over
The outbreak of the horrid norovirus—which causes vomiting, watery diarrhea, and other unpleasantness—is causing havoc in various workplaces, including local hospitals.
So how long should an infected employee remain off the job?
That's not easy to answer. Here's what various sources report:
Public Health Agency of Canada: People infected with norovirus are contagious from the moment they begin feeling ill to at least three days after recovery. Some people may be contagious for as long as two weeks after recovery. Good hygiene standards, including frequent hand washing, are very important during this period.
Toronto Public Health: Anyone who is ill with diarrhea or vomiting should stay home until well for at least 48 hours (especially for those who work with food, the elderly or at a hospital).
Vancouver Coastal Health: The illness usually lasts between 12 to 60 hours.
Scientific American: Just because someone doesn't have active illness does not mean they can't pass the virus along to others. Studies show that people still excrete the virus's genetic material up to six weeks after they became infected, which probably means they can transmit it to others.
Here's what also appeared in Scientific American:
Norovirus is spread through the fecal-oral route, meaning that you get it by ingesting fecal matter from another person. You can get it by shaking hands with an infected person who didn't wash their hands after using the bathroom. But most likely, you would get it by eating food prepared by someone who hasn't washed his or her hands. You can also become infected putting your hand in your mouth after touching contaminated surfaces such as doorknobs, where the virus can probably be infectious for days.