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Noro is very high across the country, and particularly bad in Florida right now. We’re seeing an increase in confirmed cases, though the vast majority of cases are unconfirmed. Many sick employees are heading to the hospital for fluids and being told they “likely” have norovirus but without testing. These cases are less likely to draw a health department visit, but anytime you have someone with many instances of vomiting and/or diarrhea, you should act as though it’s noro. Sanitize thoroughly (check our app for a full restaurant punchlist), send sick employees home, and make sure everyone stays home until a full 48 hours after their vomiting and diarrhea stop, since they can still spread it for days after they start to feel better.
No, the employee should stay home for at least 48 hours if they’ve been exposed to a household member with noro, and we recommend 3 days if they’re caring directly for the sick child. If they’ve sought medical attention and the provider thinks it’s probably noro, you should act like it is. Remember, noro is unbelievably contagious, so someone getting sick in the house means it’s more likely than not that your employee will get sick over the next day or two. If after 48-72 hours they’re still symptom-free, then they can return to work. If they get sick themselves, they should stay home for 48 hours after symptoms resolve.
No, you don’t need to report something to the health department if there was no testing done, but you should be prepared for an inspection, either way. Even with an alleged or presumed positive, you should do the same employee wellness checks, sanitizing protocol, and emphasis on handwashing that you’d do if it was a lab-confirmed test. That includes being prepared in case the health department shows up - focus on previous violations and ensure you have no potential violations related to handwashing, which is what the inspector will hone in on.
A whopping 25% of women in one study had diarrhea around the time of their period, so this is certainly possible. It’s likely caused by hormonal shifts and may change from month to month even for the same person. If the employee's symptoms are common and have not changed from their usual symptoms, they can continue to work. If they have any change in symptoms - like it’s more frequent or severe than usual - they should treat it as a unique symptom and stay home from work.