Illness Outbreak Information and Resources from Experts

GOJO is committed to protecting public health and offering information from experts when outbreaks occur. Use the links below for information and updates on emerging or evolving outbreaks, as well as preventive health recommendations.


It’s not only cold and flu season, it’s also norovirus season.

Sometimes called the “stomach flu,” norovirus is the most common cause of acute viral gastroenteritis around the world, and the most common cause of foodborne illness in the United States1. Unlike some other infectious diseases, we can get norovirus time and again, and the average person will experience a norovirus infection five times in their life1.

What are the Symptoms?

Norovirus symptoms usually appear 12 to 48 hours after first exposure to the virus, and last approximately one to three days. The most common symptoms of norovirus are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain

Other symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Body aches

People with norovirus are most contagious when they are sick, and for a few days after they feel better. So, how is it spread? Norovirus spreads quickly and rapidly, people can become infected with it by:

  • Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus, most likely prepared by an individual who is infected with the virus
  • Touching surfaces or objects with norovirus on them and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth
  • Having direct contact with a person who is infected with norovirus, for example, when sharing foods, utensils with them2

Steps to Reduce the Spread of Norovirus

Even though norovirus is highly contagious, there are ways you can reduce the risk of its spread. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, follow these steps to reduce the spread of the virus.

  1. Practice good hand hygiene. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and water at key moments, especially after using the restroom since the virus can spread through stool. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol can be used in addition to handwashing.
  2. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Immediately disinfect and clean contaminated surfaces with a disinfectant and cleaner formulated to kill norovirus. For example, PURELL® Surface Sprays are effective against norovirus 
  3. Wash laundry thoroughly
  4. Wash fruits and vegetables when preparing food; follow proper food preparation guidelines
  5. Do not prepare meals when you are sick2

Whether you think you might have a cold, flu or norovirus, it’s always important to consult a doctor and take precautionary measures to help you and everyone stay healthy.

PURELL® Surface Sprays - Reach the Pinnacle of No-Trade Offs
GOJO Scientist Jim Arbogast Discusses Norovirus Prevention

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Learn more about PURELL® Surface Sprays 

1. Lopman et al. 2016. The Vast and Varied Global Burden of Norovirus: Prospects for Prevention and Control. PLoS Medicine 13(4): e1001999. Available at
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Norovirus. Retrieved January 24, 2017, from

Hand Hygiene as a Preventive Measure During Cold and Flu Season

Health professionals and public health organizations are encouraging the public to take preventive measures this cold and flu season to help prevent the spread of germs that can cause illness. Everyday hand hygiene, both handwashing and hand sanitizing with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available, is the single most important way to reduce the spread of germs that can cause infection.

GOJO is providing the following resources to raise awareness for hand hygiene to help decrease the spread of germs that cause illness during the seasonal months.

Additional Cold and Flu Resources

For up-to-date information regarding illness outbreaks, and hygiene recommendations visit:

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What is influenza?

A: According to the CDC, seasonal influenza, commonly called “the flu,” is caused by influenza viruses, which infect the respiratory tract (i.e., the nose, throat, lungs). Unlike many other viral respiratory infections, such as the common cold, the flu can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications in many people. It is estimated that in the United States, each year on average 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications.

Q: What are influenza’s symptoms?

A: Influenza, or the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

Q: How does the flu spread?

A: Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.

According to the CDC, to avoid this, people should stay away from sick people and stay home if sick. It also is important to wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. Eating utensils can be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap and do not need to be cleaned separately. Further, frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at home, work and school, especially if someone is ill.

Q: Are there any preventive measures that can be taken against the flu?

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends “Take 3" Actions to Fight the Flu1:

  • Take the time to get a flu vaccine,
  • Take every day preventative actions, including washing your hands with soap and water and if soap and water is not available use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and
  • Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.


Q: Are PURELL® products effective against the flu?

A: The FDA does not allow brands to make viral claims, but from a scientific perspective influenza is an enveloped virus. Enveloped viruses in general are easily killed or inactivated by alcohol. WHO and the CDC are recommending the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer as a preventive measure for flu prevention.


Global public health experts, including the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health Canada and others continue to take action to stop the spread of Ebola Viral Disease. Handwashing and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, are among the top preventive measures these experts recommend taking during this disease outbreak.

Information relative to Ebola continues to evolve as public health experts work to contain and eradicate this dangerous disease. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to these websites:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidelines for Healthcare workers:

World Health Organization (WHO)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Health Canada

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What is Ebola?

A: Ebola is a severe, infectious, often-fatal disease in humans and non-human primates (monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees) caused by infection with the Ebola virus. The Ebola virus is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and/or tissues of infected animals or people. To date, Ebola has claimed more than 3,000 lives in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Exposure to the virus can be controlled through the use of protective measures in clinics and hospitals, at community gatherings or at home.

Q: What are symptoms of the Ebola virus?

A: Symptoms of the Ebola virus typically include: Fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and lack of appetite, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure to Ebola virus though eight-10 days is most common.

Q: How is the Ebola treated?

A: Ebola is treated through supportive care, re-hydration with oral or intravenous fluids and treatment of specific symptoms improves survival. There is not yet a prove treatment available for Ebola. A range of potential treatments, including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies, are currently being evaluated.

Q: Are there any preventive measures that can be taken against Ebola?

A:World Health Organization (WHO) Medical Officer, Sergey Eremin, Ph.D., M.D., delivered a presentation about key measures for prevention and control of the disease. Dr. Eremin reinforced that hand hygiene is one of the pillars of the preventive measures. He also highlighted that the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers (ABHS) is the preferred means for routine hand hygiene if hands are not visibly soiled. ABHS is faster, more effective and better tolerated by hands than washing with soap and water.

Q: Are PURELL® products effective against Ebola?

A: Ebola viruses are high risk pathogens that must be contained and are not readily available for laboratory testing. As of today, we are not aware of any hand sanitizers that have been tested against Ebola viruses, including PURELL® Hand Sanitizer. However, it is important to note that the Ebola virus is an enveloped virus. Enveloped viruses in general are easily killed or inactivated by alcohol. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are recommending the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer as a preventive measure during this outbreak.