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How does one prevent Viral Gastroenteritis

Other Diseases By Ariba Khaliq , Onlymyhealth editorial team / Apr 12, 2011
How does one prevent Viral Gastroenteritis

Viral gastroenteritis spreads easily. There are some things you can do to lower your chances of contracting the virus or spreading it to others.

Viral gastroenteritis is a highly contagious illness involving inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Viral gastroenteritis can be caused by several different viruses that cause similar diseases and infect humans only, e.g., norovirus, sapovirus, adenovirus, and astrovirus.

"Stomach flu” and “food poisoning” are common but misleading terms for viral gastroenteritis. Unlike actual food poisoning, viral gastroenteritis does not originate directly from food; rather, the food has been contaminated from an infected individual.

Preventing Viral Gastroenteritis

In your household, the risk of spreading illness can be reduced by following basic hygiene rules:


Preventing Viral Gastroenteritis

Hand washing

  • Everyone should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and warm running water for at least 15 seconds:
  • before preparing food
  • before eating
  • after going to the toilet or after changing nappies
  • after cleaning up when someone has been sick.
  • Food preparation
  • Ensure that people with gastro do not prepare or handle food that is to be eaten by others.
  • Other precautions are:
  • thoroughly cook all raw food
  • thoroughly wash raw fruit and vegetables in clean water before eating
  • reheat food until the internal temperature of the food reaches at least 75°C.


Preventing Viral Gastroenteritis


Household cleaning
When somebody has gastro symptoms, particular attention must be paid to cleaning surfaces such as toilet seats and handles, taps and nappy change tables. Ensure that all potentially contaminated areas are regularly cleaned and disinfected using a hypochlorite solution with a strength of about 1,000ppm (250ml or 1 cup of household bleach diluted in 10 litres or one bucket of water).

Viral gastro may sometimes cause severe vomiting. When cleaning up vomit or faeces, to prevent the transmission of the virus it is important that the following procedure is used.

  • Wear rubber gloves.
  • Cover the vomit or faeces with 1,000ppm hypochlorite solution (diluted as above) and leave for 10 minutes.
  • Clean up vomit or faeces with paper towels or toilet paper, being careful not to spread it.
  • Flush paper and vomit/faeces down the toilet.
  • Wash area with warm water and detergent and bundle soiled cleaning cloths in a plastic bag.
  • Disinfect area with 1,000ppm hypochlorite solution (diluted as above) and leave for 10 minutes, then rinse area with clean water.
  • Dispose of cleaning cloths in the sealed plastic bag.
  • Remove gloves and wash and disinfect them in a hypochlorite solution.
  • Wash hands with soap under warm running water.


Preventing Viral Gastroenteritis

If cleaning up vomit/faeces on a carpet, carry out the above procedure but do not disinfect with the hypochlorite solution, as this will bleach the carpet.

Cloth nappies, clothing and bedding which have been spoiled by faeces or vomit should be cleaned in the following manner:

  • Wear rubber gloves.
  • Remove as much faeces or vomit as possible using paper towels or toilet paper and flush down the toilet.
  • Soak the articles in 50ppm hypochlorite solution (12.5ml of household bleach diluted in 10 litres or one bucket of water) for half an hour if washing directions permit this, otherwise dry clean the articles.
  • Remove gloves and wash and disinfect them in a hypochlorite solution.
  • Wash hands with soap under warm running water.
  • Wash articles in the washing machine on the hot cycle, if washing directions permit this, otherwise dry clean the articles.


Viral gastroenteritis generally resolves without treatment within two or three days. Most people fully recover, with no lasting side effects.

Image Courtesy: Getty

Read more articles on Viral Gastroenteritis.

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