Firefighter Health First-Aid
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Mar 2020


Norovirus causes sudden vomiting and diarrhea and feeling extremely ill. It is highly contagious and can spread rapidly through a crew or fire camp by exposure to stool and vomit of sick people. Food, drink, and objects can be contaminated even if you don’t see anything on them. Sick people are contagious for 3 days after recovery, possibly longer.

Symptoms of Norovirus infection usually last about 2–3 days and include:

  • Diarrhea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Dehydration due to excessive vomiting and diarrhea. 


  • There is no drug for treating Norovirus and antibiotics don’t help.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids with electrolytes.
  • In some cases, fluid may need to be given intravenously.

If you have symptoms, take these steps to prevent spread:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the toilet.
    • If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 62% ethanol.
  • Do not prepare food for others while you are sick and for 3 days after you recover.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces with a bleach-based cleaning solution immediately after they have been contaminated by vomit or diarrhea.
  • Wash soiled laundry thoroughly.
    • Wear disposable gloves if possible and wash your hands after handling.
    • Immediately remove items that may be contaminated, place in a plastic bag, machine wash with detergent on the longest cycle, and machine dry.
    • Handle soiled items gently to avoid spreading the virus.


  • Wash your hands with soap and water before eating, drinking, or smoking.
  • Don’t touch your mouth or food after touching anything that might be contaminated.
  • Wear disposable gloves when taking care of a sick buddy.


Additional Resources

Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
NWCG Standards for Helicopter Operations, PMS 510
RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center

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