Stomach flu, also known as viral gastroenteritis, is a viral infection that occurs in the intestine. Healthy individuals can easily overcome the symptoms of the viral infection that include abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and mild fever. Rarely, stomach flu causes complications. The risk of complications is greater among infants, senior citizens and people with weak immune system.
What causes stomach flu?
Several viruses can cause stomach flu. However, most stomach flu infections are caused by the rotavirus and the norovirus. Stomach flu caused by the rotavirus infection is highly contagious. Most victims of the rotavirus infection are children. In the absence of proper health care facilities, rotavirus infections can cause severe complications and even death. Adults usually do not experience symptoms of the rotavirus infection, but they may spread the virus to other healthy people. Both children and adults are susceptible to the norovirus infection. The symptoms of norovirus stomach infections develop 24 to 48 hours after contracting the infection.
Contagious period of stomach flu
Stomach flu is an extremely contagious disease. People suffering from norovirus infection experience the symptoms of stomach flu, 24 to 48 hours after the virus infects the intestine. A person infected with norovirus, starts spreading the germs as soon as the symptoms of the disease start developing. The risk of spreading the norovirus infection even remains three to fourteen days after recovering from the illness. In case of rotavirus infection, the risk of contagion starts even before the symptoms of the disease appears and remains up to two weeks after recovery. In both types of stomach flu infections, children are more contagious than adults are.
Stomach flu prevention
Stomach flu could be easily prevented through proper hygiene. Washing your hand before meals with soap and water helps to remove the infection causing viruses from the hand. You should not put dirty hands in your mouth. Children should be taught the importance of washing hands before eating. To prevent stomach flu caused by rotavirus infection, children can be vaccinated with the rotavirus stomach flu vaccine. Undercooked seafood and meat are often the source of the stomach flu viruses. Stomach flu infection could be avoided by only taking foods that are well cooked.