How to Avoid Catching a Stomach Virus
Viral gastroenteritis is commonly called the stomach flu or stomach virus 1. Many different viruses can cause viral gastroenteritis, including the rotaviruses, noroviruses, adenoviruses, sapoviruses and astroviruses 1. The stomach virus is spread through close contact with a contaminated person or by touching inanimate items that have been contaminated with the virus. There is also evidence that viral gastroenteritis may be spread through the air 1. The stomach virus is very contagious and there is no sure way to prevent becoming infected with it. With the right precautions, people can greatly reduce their chances of contracting viral gastroenteritis 1.
Distance yourself from others who have the stomach flu. Since it is not always feasible to avoid people who have the stomach flu, stand a few feet away to reduce your chances of contracting the virus from them.
Wash your hands often; especially before eating or touching your face.
Avoid sharing towels or clothing with people who have the stomach flu. Launder clothing that has been handled by or worn by a person who has the stomach flu.
Steer clear of food that has been prepared by a person who has the stomach flu virus and do not share eating utensils with the sick person.
Sterilize or replace your toothbrush when others in your home have the stomach flu. Store your toothbrush away from sick people's toothbrushes. To sterilize your toothbrush, soak it in isopropyl alcohol for five minutes and rinse thoroughly in clean water.
Disinfect commonly touched items in your home and office. Doorknobs, refrigerator handles, faucet handles, toilets, remote controls, phones, computer keyboards and computer mice are commonly touched items that are often contaminated with the stomach flu virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends disinfecting items "with household chlorine bleach-based cleaners." If you are interested in a greener alternative to chlorine bleach, use hydrogen peroxide to disinfect household surfaces. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists hydrogen peroxide as a product that effectively kills the stomach flu virus. Any of the strengths of hydrogen peroxide sold at your local pharmacy for human use are suitable to use as a household disinfectant.
Take good care of yourself to keep your immune system functioning at its best. Drink six 8 oz. glasses of fluids a day, eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and get six to eight hours of sleep a night.
The viruses that cause the stomach virus in humans are not transmitted to or by animals.
Before cleaning household surfaces with chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide, test the disinfectant on a small inconspicuous area to see if the disinfectant will bleach or harm the surface.
- CDC / E. L. Palmer