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.
In your household, the risk of spreading illness can be reduced by following basic hygiene rules:
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.
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:
Viral gastroenteritis generally resolves without treatment within two or three days. Most people fully recover, with no lasting side effects.
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