Additional Notes On Incubation Period
Despite the length of the incubation period in rotavirus and norovirus, there is an average period of time that people will incubate the illness.
Most people will harbor the stomach flu virus for as little as 4 hours to as long as 2 days. Naturally, that length of the incubation period depends on the virus thats causing the infection.
The symptoms also start developing as soon as the initial incubation period passes, usually about after a day or two. At the onset of stomach flu, the virus infiltrates the small intestine and starts to multiply. When this happens, the symptoms from stomach flu start affecting people who are carrying the illness.
While stomach flu happens seemingly out of nowhere, its still completely curable. People with stomach flu should take care to get the appropriate medications and stay hydrated enough to curb most of the symptoms associated with the illness.
Here’s What To Know About The Stomach Flu And How Long Symptoms Can Last
Despite the fact that it’s so common, many people don’t know much about the stomach flu. That’s possible because it has many other names, including stomach bug and viral gastroenteritis . Viral gastroenteritis is commonly caused by norovirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . But it can also be caused by other viruses, such as rotavirus , adenovirus, sapovirus, and astrovirus.
Confusingly, the stomach flu doesn’t have anything to do with the actual flu, which is caused by the influenza virusbut it can feel just as bad. Between the vomiting and diarrhea and stomach cramps…if you’ve been there, you won’t forget it.
Here are some things to know about viral gastroenteritis, including how long it lasts in adults.
How Is The Stomach Flu Spread
Stomach flu typically spreads in the following ways:
- Contagious cases of stomach flu are spread usually through contamination of food or water or by person-to-person spread via contaminated droplets containing infectious organisms.
- Some contagious cases of gastroenteritis can be spread by kissing and other close personal contact or on surfaces where droplets containing viruses or other agents survive.
- Some viruses can even be spread to household pets such as dogs that, in turn, can spread the disease to other people.
Fortunately, most causes of contagious gastroenteritis are not spread by breastfeeding or through breast milk. Noncontagious gastroenteritis such as that related to side effects of medicine or food allergies is not spread from person to person.
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Who’s At The Greatest Risk Of Getting Sick
Young children’s developing immune systems make it harder for them to fight off viral infections, and their smaller bodies are also at greater risk of becoming dehydrated.
People aged 65 years and older are also more prone to coming down with viral gastroenteritis and may need up to four days to recover, according to a 2019 study published in Infectious Disease Clinics of North America.
Anyone with a chronic illness, such as heart disease, asthma, cancer, or kidney disease, or who has HIV or is taking medications that suppress the immune system, are at risk of developing complications and should see their healthcare provider if they come down with the stomach flu.
What Causes Stomach Flu
You are very likely to contract stomach flu if you have had some contaminated food or water, or shared your utensils or towels with someone suffering from it. But, what causes it in the first place? Listed below are the major causes that you should be aware of:
Norovirus is the leading cause of stomach gastroenteritis and affects about 50%-70% of people in the world. The other viruses that can cause stomach flu include Rotavirus, Astrovirus, Adenovirus and Sapovirus strains.
Bacterial causes of stomach flu include Salmonella, Shigella, Camplyobacter aeromona, and Escherichia coli strains. Occasionally, Clostridium, Vibrio and Yersinia spp. can also cause gastroenteritis amongst people.
Common parasites that cause gastroenteritis are Giardia, Cryptosporidium and Entamoeba species. However, even Cyclospora can cause an outbreak occasionally.
4. Other causes
Besides infectious agents, there are other causes of gastroenteritis like allergies and toxins. It can even occur as a side effect of many medications, like antibiotics.
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How Long Are You Contagious With The Stomach Flu And/or Rotavirus
Stomach bugs are highly contagious. Playing with an infected child is the main way the virus spreads, since germs can live on toys and clothes for hours or even days. If the infection results from bacteria or parasites, your child may have consumed contaminated food or water .
What makes stomach flu particularly virulent is that children are contagious before they actually show any symptoms. Also, adults with their heartier immune systems may harbor the germs and pass them along without ever getting sick themselves.
Treatment Of Stomach Bugs
The focus should be on management adequate rehydration, bed rest and gradual introduction to solid food. Acute infectious gastroenteritis should settle in 2 to 3 days in a healthy person. Medical treatment should be sought if the symptoms are persisting for more than 5 days or if there is any sign of moderate to severe dehydration.
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When Should I Call The Doctor
- cant drink for several hours
- is peeing less often
- has signs of dehydration, such as crying with few or no tears, having a dry mouth or cracked lips, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, acting very sleepy or less alert
- has a high fever
- has blood in their poop or vomit
- is vomiting for more than 24 hours or the diarrhea doesnt get better after several days
How Long Are You Contagious
Stomach flu can be very contagious. The amount of time youre contagious is determined by the type of virus you have. Norovirus is the most common cause of stomach flu. People with stomach flu caused by norovirus become contagious as soon as they start to have symptoms and remain contagious for several days afterward.
Norovirus can last in stool for two weeks or longer. This makes it possible for caregivers who change diapers to become infected unless they take precautions such as immediate hand washing.
Rotavirus is the leading cause of stomach flu in infants, toddlers, and children. Stomach flu caused by rotavirus is contagious during the incubation period that precedes symptoms.
People infected with this virus continue to be contagious for up to two weeks after theyve recovered.
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The Incubation Period Of Stomach Flu
To understand the differences in incubation periods for stomach flu, know that there are two viruses that cause stomach flu: norovirus and rotavirus.
NorovirusNorovirus is the most common cause of stomach flu. Most people are contagious from the moment that they become ill. Much of the symptoms start appearing within a day or three days of getting exposed some people are known to be contagious up about two weeks after recovering from the illness. Children affected by norovirus actually stay contagious for longer period than adults.
RotavirusRotavirus mainly affects young children and infants. Symptoms often appear up to two days after being exposed. When they contract the virus, however, theyre contagious from the moment they show symptoms. Most children stay contagious up to two weeks after recovery.
In most cases, these viruses are spread through close contact with the infected. The best way to stop spreading the illness is disinfecting and/or washing your hands.
How Does Viral Gastroenteritis Spread
Viral gastroenteritis spreads from person to person through contact with an infected persons stool or vomit.
If you have viral gastroenteritis, viruses will be present in your stool and vomit. You may spread the virus in small bits of stool or vomit, especially if you dont wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom and
- touch surfaces or objects used by other people
- prepare or serve foods and drinks for other people
- shake hands with or touch another person
Infected people who do not have symptoms can still spread viruses. For example, norovirus may be found in your stool before you have symptoms and up to 2 weeks after you recover.2
Norovirus is especially contagious, meaning that it spreads easily from person to person. Norovirus can live for months on surfaces such as countertops and changing tables. When an infected person vomits, the virus may become airborne and land on surfaces or on another person.
Viral gastroenteritis may spread in households, day care centers and schools, nursing homes, cruise ships, restaurants, and other places where people gather in groups.
If water comes into contact with stools of infected people, the water may become contaminated with a virus. The contaminated water can spread the virus to foods or drinks, and people who consume these foods or drinks may become infected. People who swim in contaminated water may also become infected.
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What Happens After The Incubation Period
You have known the incubation period for stomach flu, but do you know what happens after that period? Once the virus has entered your body, symptoms start appearing after the incubation period. The major symptoms that are seen in stomach flu include severe abdominal cramping that can result in pain, a feeling of nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea. Some patients also complain of headaches or fever. A swelling in lymph nodes is noticed in some cases. If you continue vomiting or have diarrhea for a longer duration, it could result in a severe decrease in body fluids level, resulting in dehydration which can prove fatal.
What Causes Gastroenteritis
Many of the germs that cause gastroenteritis spread easily. So someone can get sick if they:
- Touch something contaminated and then touch food or their mouth.
- Live with someone whos infected, even if that person isnt sick.
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What Is The Stomach Flu
The stomach flu, also known as viral gastroenteritis, is a viral infection that impacts the intestines.
There are several different viruses that can cause the stomach flu the two most common are noroviruses and rotaviruses.
Though they can be incredibly painful and uncomfortable, symptoms typically can be treated at home and only last for a few days, though they sometimes last longer.
The stomach flu is highly contagious, and is typically spread through contact with an infected person , or by eating or drinking contaminated food or beverages.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the stomach flu, and antibiotics are ineffective when treating viruses.
Prevention is key when it comes to dealing with these viruses, so remember to wash your hands, keep your distance, disinfect hard surfaces, and keep items like cups, utensils, and towels to yourself if youre sick.
Whats The Difference Between Stomach Flu Food Poisoning And Seasonal Flu
Stomach flu isnt the same thing as food poisoning, which often occurs within hours of ingesting a contaminated substance. Food poisoning has similar symptoms to stomach flu. Symptoms of food poisoning usually last for one to two days.
Stomach flu isnt the same as seasonal flu, which causes coldlike symptoms that typically last one to two weeks.
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How Is Gastroenteritis Treated
There is no specific treatment for gastroenteritis, and most kids can be treated at home. Keep your child hydrated by offering plenty of liquids. Kids with more severe dehydration may need treatment in the ER or hospital.
Mild dehydration is treated with oral rehydration. This usually includes giving oral rehydration solution . It has the right amounts of water, sugar, and salt to help with dehydration. You can buy it without a prescription at drugstores or supermarkets. If you cant get oral rehydration solution, talk to your doctor.
If your child has mild dehydration and your doctor says its OK to start treatment at home:
- Give your child an oral electrolyte solution as often as possible. If your child throws up, start with small sips, about 1 or 2 teaspoons every few minutes.
- Babies can continue to breastfeed or take formula as long as they are not throwing up repeatedly.
- Don’t give babies plain water instead of oral rehydration solution. It doesn’t have the right nutrients for babies with dehydration.
- Older children can have frozen electrolyte popsicles.
- Do not give your child full-strength juice , soda, or sports drinks. These have a lot of sugar, which can make diarrhea worse.
When your child stops vomiting, you can offer small amounts of solid foods, such as toast, crackers, rice, or mashed potatoes. Yogurt, fruits, vegetables, and lean meat, like chicken, are also OK.
Don’t give medicines for diarrhea or vomiting unless your doctor tells you to.
Incubation Period For Stomach Flu Caused By The Rotavirus
The incubation period for stomach flu caused by the rotavirus is about 1 to 2 days. Patients suffering from stomach flu caused by the rotavirus are contagious during the actual incubation period till about a couple of weeks of recovery. Children are commonly affected by rotavirus and they also are contagious for prolonged periods of time when compared to adults.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of The Stomach Flu
The primary symptoma of stomach flu or gastroenteritis include:
The incubation time for gastroenteritis varies according to the particular cause. The most rapid incubation time is usually with viral illnesses , and the infected person may become contagious during this time without symptoms of nausea or diarrhea.
Noncontagious causes may produce symptoms very rapidly and in some people, the symptoms may become so severe that they require emergency care.
Doctors usually base the diagnosis on the persons history and physical exam some patients will need further blood and fecal tests done to determine the cause, especially in more severe infections.
Urgent Advice: Get Advice From 111 Now If:
- youre worried about a baby under 12 months
- your child stops breast or bottle feeding while theyre ill
- a child under 5 years has signs of dehydration such as fewer wet nappies
- you or your child still have signs of dehydration after using oral rehydration sachets
- you or your child keep being sick and cannot keep fluid down
- you or your child have bloody diarrhoea or bleeding from the bottom
- you or your child have diarrhoea for more than 7 days or vomiting for more than 2 days
111 will tell you what to do. They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one.
Go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111.
A GP may be able to help you.
Ask a GP surgery for an urgent appointment.
Check with the GP surgery before going in. A GP may speak to you on the phone.
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How To Stop A Stomach Virus From Spreading
Most strains of the virus are extremely contagious. That means your entire family can very quickly get sick. If you are lucky enough to have only one person in the family sick before it spreads, the best thing you can do to protect others is to isolate the sick individual, and then clean as best as you can, says Dr. Kondis. The incubation period for the common stomach virus is between 12 and 48 hours.
Wash hands frequently, she says. Some viruses that cause stomach flu, such as Norovirus, can actually survive hand sanitizer, so it is best to wash with soap and water. Also wash bedding, towels, and other things that children are using while they are sick.
And be sure to wash any surfaces that your child comes into contact with while theyre sick. Some viruses can survive on hard surfaces for days, Dr. Kondis elaborates. Consider using a diluted bleach solution in addition to soap and water. Pay attention to commonly touched surfaces like doorknobs, sink faucets, and toilet seats and handles. Anything that comes into contact with even the smallest amount of infected bodily fluid is fair game for spreading the virus.
If your child throws up on the floor, consider wearing a face mask and gloves when tackling the clean-up task. Use a substance that dries the solid waste, making it easier to pick up without splashing everywhere, which can increase the likelihood of spreading germs.
Why Is This Years Flu Season Going To Be Worse
The last two years were comparatively mild flu seasons, but thats not what were expecting this year. The U.S. tries to make predictions about the upcoming flu season by reviewing the severity of the flu season in the Southern Hemisphere, which runs from June to September. According to early reports, this year was Australias worst flu season in five years.
There are several factors that can make a flu season more severe, including:
- Lower immunity due to COVID isolation
- Removal of COVID precautions .
- People returning to their pre-pandemic activities
- Increased flu cases mixed with rising COVID cases
- Low vaccine uptake
In a recent press release, William Schaffner, MD, the medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases , said that based on what experts have seen in the Southern Hemisphere, the flu has the potential to hit us hard this year.
on a positive note, we have more preventive behaviors in our toolbox than we did before the COVID-19 pandemic, Schaffner added. We are more accustomed to wearing masks and staying home when sick.
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