Symptoms Different Between Norovirus and E.coli

Health and Wellness

January 8, 2013 1:59 PM

NOTE: A fact sheet is available at

In an effort to better educate people about E.coli, public health officials want to ensure Nova Scotians understand and can identify the differences between this illness and others like it.

Most Nova Scotians who have vomiting and diarrhea this winter will not have E.coli 0157.

"Norovirus infection, or what is known as winter vomiting, most people call a stomach bug, are very common this time of year," said Nova Scotia's Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Frank Atherton. "If you suddenly become sick with nausea and vomiting, you probably have the norovirus."

There are 10 confirmed cases of E.coli 0157 in Nova Scotia.

Symptoms sometimes include abdominal cramps, vomiting and bloody diarrhea lasting between three to 10 days.

The most common symptoms of noroviruses are sudden onset nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (usually non-bloody) and stomach cramps. This is sometimes accompanied by low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and fatigue.

"One of the main differences between norovirus and E.coli is how long the illnesses last," said Dr. Atherton. "Norovirus infection usually last 12 to 24 hours. If you have been experiencing vomiting and diarrhea for longer than two or three days, or if there's blood in your diarrhea, it's time to see your doctor or call 811."

People with norovirus usually feel better within a day or two.

Anyone who is experiencing vomiting or diarrhea should stay home from work, school or daycare. Food handlers and health-care workers should not return to work until 48 hours after diarrhea and vomiting have stopped.

To avoid spreading norovirus:
-- wash hands often, especially after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before eating or preparing food
-- thoroughly clean floors, counters, and bathrooms. Pay extra attention to surfaces that are often touched
-- do not share glasses or dishes
-- use separate towels for sick family members.


     Public health officials urge Nova Scotians to be aware of

the differences between E.coli and similar illnesses.

     Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Frank Atherton

says norovirus infection or vomiting is common this time of


     The most common symptoms of norovirus infection are sudden

onset nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. Sometimes

there is a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and


     Dr. Atherton says that noroviruses have a quick onset and

people usually start to feel better within 12 to 24 hours.

     Anyone vomiting or having diarrhea longer than 72 hours, or

experiencing bloody diarrhea, should call 811 or see their

family doctor.


Media Contact: Tony Kiritsis
              Health and Wellness