The Stomach Flu Is More Contagious Than Previously Thought

January 7, 2013

Stomach FluThe average person with Norovirus, one of the many causes of stomach flu, will pass it on to about 7 other people—either directly (touch) or indirectly (contaminated surfaces).

New research shows that contaminated surfaces may be a bigger source of Norovirus than previously thought.

Able to survive more than 12 days outside the body and resistant to most cleaning techniques (bleach is what’s recommended to clean a surface contaminated with Norovirus), you can see how it spreads easily—but a new vomiting robot, which has allowed scientists to measure how far vomit particles can spread, suggests that more thorough cleaning is necessary.

It takes a minimal amount of exposure to contract Norovirus and get stuck with stomach flu symptoms—vomiting (projectile or forceful vomiting, often), diarrhea, etc. So the small amount of particles that escape the obviously contaminated area after a person throws up can really be a source of infection.

According to the result of the vomiting robot, at least 3 meters around the area where a person vomited need to be cleaned with bleach to stop the spread of Norovirus.

Norovirus, and stomach flu in general, is up this past year (along with Pertussis/Whooping Cough, Influenza, Lyme Disease, and West Nile Virus). So the study is more relevant than ever: if you want to keep your family safe, clean a little more than usual if someone gets sick!

Stomach flu symptoms can start 1-2 days after exposure, or just a few hours. That means that transmission is possible before you even know you have it. What’s worse, transmission can continue for a couple of days even after stomach flu symptoms stop. Norovirus can quickly spread through a school or workplace—so take extra precautions if you get sick.

To combat stomach flu symptoms, rest, drink LOTS of water or other clear fluids, take a probiotic, and try and keep up your strength with whatever food you can tolerate.

What illnesses have abounded in your area this last year?

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