Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu) (cont.)

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Is gastroenteritis contagious?

The large majority of causes (viral and bacterial) of gastroenteritis are contagious, usually through food or water contamination; in addition, they can be transferred person-to-person. A few causes are not contagious such as food allergies or the side effects of medications.

Who is at risk for gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis is a common, worldwide disease and almost everyone suffers from it a few times in their life because it is almost impossible to avoid contact with some of the viral and bacterial causes.

  • People living in crowded conditions (military, cruise ships, dorms) are at higher risk, as are people living in developing countries who often have a diet that contains contaminated food or water.
  • Infants, children and some adults (elderly, immunosuppressed) are at higher risk because of immature or depressed immune systems and also because they can become dehydrated faster than older children and adults.
  • Some patients taking antibiotics are at higher risk because the antibiotics depress the normal GI microbes and allow bacteria or viruses like Clostridium diffficile to predominate and cause disease.
  • People who do not practice good hygiene and hand washing techniques are at higher risk, as are those who eat under cooked and/or unwashed foods or drink from potentially contaminated fluid sources (rivers, streams, unpasteurized milk, for example).

How is gastroenteritis transmitted?

The majority of all patients can transfer most viral and bacterial causative agents to other people by direct and indirect contact, usually by the fecal – oral route. Direct contact could involve an infant's hand touching feces-contaminated surfaces and then touching a sibling or relative; indirect contact would be like touching a door knob or railing on a cruise ship or in a dorm that is contaminated and the person touches the contaminated surface and transfers the agent by touching their mouth. Another common way to get gastroenteritis is drinking or eating contaminated foods and liquids.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/31/2013

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Gastroenteritis - Symptoms Question: What symptoms did you have with gastroenteritis (stomach flu)?
Gastroenteritis - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with gastroenteritis (stomach flu).
Gastroenteritis - Cause Question: Do you know what virus, bacteria, or parasite caused your case of gastroenteritis (cruise ship, traveling by plane, traveling to another country, from a family member or friend?)
Gastroenteritis - Treatment Question: What treatments were effective for your case of gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis - Call for Medical Help Question: Did you have to call your doctor to treat your case of gastroenteritis? What did our doctor prescribe and what tests did he/she order to determine the cause of gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis - Complications Question: Please describe the complications you suffered due to gastroenteritis.
Gastroenteritis - Diagnosed Question: How was your case of gastroenteritis diagnosed?

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