What to know about norovirus, Shigella outbreaks

Outbreaks of norovirus and Shigella often make headlines due to how quickly they can spread in communities. UW Medicine's Dr. Ferric Fang says these separate infections can feel similar if you become ill during an outbreak.

“Shigella is a bacterium and norovirus is a virus, but they both cause a syndrome that we call gastroenteritis – which, to the person who has the infection, is going to be some combination of GI symptoms like nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping and diarrhea,” said Fang.  He's a professor of laboratory medicine & pathology and of microbiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Here are some traits of these infections:

Norovirus (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resource page)

  • Virus can spread from infected people or from contaminated foods and surfaces.
  • Outbreaks are most common from November to April.
  • Symptoms often resolve within a few days.

Shigellosis, the infection caused by Shigella (CDC health advisory)

Download broadcast-ready soundbites on norovirus and Shigella outbreaks.

Additional resource: Research involving Dr. Fang that studied 2017-22 Shigella outbreak in Seattle


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UW Medicine