What you need to know about stomach bugs?

What you need to know about stomach bugs?
December 19 08:31 2018 Print This Article

Your go-to guide:

Gastroenteritis, or the stomach bug, can be caused by a few different viruses. The most common of these is Norovirus also known as the ‘gastric flu’, ‘stomach flu’ or gastro. There are around 25 different strains of Norovirus, each of which is very hard to distinguish because they all share common symptoms. These being: cramping, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

What causes Norovirus?

Norovirus is caused by the spread of bacteria through everyday interactions such as talking, shaking hands, coughing, sneezing or breathing. It is estimated that a person will get the ‘stomach flu’ about five times in their lifetime. The commonality of the virus is due to how easily it spreads.

What are the symptoms of the ‘stomach bug’?

There are many symptoms that are related to the norovirus and it can easily be misdiagnosed due to the similarity between food poisoning and stomach bugs.

Home doctors say that the most common symptoms for a stomach bug are:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever
  • Joint aches
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle aches.

The symptoms of Norovirus tend to show up 24-48 hours after first contact with the virus and can last for up to 3 days.In extreme cases, you may feel sick for up to 10 days. However, with food poisoning, symptoms show up within 6-8 hours of consumption and will rarely last more than 2 days.

How is the virus spread?

Due to the highly infectious nature of Norovirus, it can spread through the vomit or stool (faeces) of the infected person through:

  • direct contact with vomit or stool of an infected person
  • person-to-person contact, for example shaking hands with someone who has been sick and has the virus on their hands
  • contaminated objects
  • contaminated food or drink – oysters and other shellfish can sometimes become contaminated with norovirus from dirty water
  • airborne particles when people vomit.

Outbreaks of the virus are most common in places where people are in close confines with each other, such as cruise ships, day-care centres, retirement homes, dining halls, school dormitories and hospitals.

Treatment for Norovirus:

Sadly, there is no known treatment for Norovirus, nor is there a vaccine. However, when people are ill with vomiting or diarrhoea, it is imperative that they stay hydrated.

If you start to suffer from fevers, have dark urine and get dizzy when moving, after-hours doctors will tell you that you are severely dehydrated.

If vomiting, avoid solid foods until the stomach settles and then slowly introduce dry toast and crackers. If the stomach will not hold the food, cut solids all together and seek medical attention.

How to prevent and outbreak of a stomach bug:

To protect yourself and your family, follow a few simple steps:

Maintain good personal hygiene:

According to the experts at House Call Doctor, the most common way that the norovirus is spread is through human interaction. The easiest ways to reduce the risk of an outbreak is to maintain good personal hygiene by washing properly and washing hands after using the toilet and changing nappies, and always before and after preparing food.

Handle and prepare food safely:

If you are suffering from Norovirus, food preparation shouldn’t even cross your mind. If you are well however, make sure to wash fruit and vegetables in clean water, and take care in the preparation of seafood and raw meats. Be careful with the storage of meat and seafood as containers can also spread illnesses.

Disinfect contaminated surfaces:

After someone vomits or has diarrhoea, use disposable gloves to immediately clean and disinfect any contaminated surfaces. The best cleaners to use are beach-based household cleaners. Chlorine-based bleach solutions and wipes are also effective at killing norovirus. Make sure to also disinfect surfaces in the home that are commonly touched, such as handles, sinks, doors and toilets.

Wash laundry thoroughly:

The immediate removal of contaminated clothing or linens can help to keep the infection at bay. If available, wear gloves when handling the infected items. Wash items with detergent at the maximum available cycle length and temperature, followed by a machine dry.

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