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Gastroenteritis is a severe inflammation of the gastro intestinal tract that usually affects both the stomach and the small intestines. This condition is also known as gastric flu, stomach flu, and stomach virus. The disease usually involves symptoms of the extremely upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting and general malaise. In most of the cases, people become affected with gastroenteritis after a contact with an infected person or infected food, water or surfaces. This is very unpleasant medical condition but, in most of the cases, it does not involve serious complications. Otherwise, healthy people will probably recover in just a couple of days. People with compromised immune system, children and older adults may experience more severe symptoms and, in some rare cases, the disease can be deadly for them. It is therefore very important to know and understand what can be done to prevent gastroenteritis.

Sources of infection

In most of the cases, gastroenteritis is caused by viral infections, and less likely by bacteria, parasites or adverse reactions to food or medications. Some foods like shellfish or uncooked oysters, sushi, and other unprocessed foods, can make one sick. In many cases, the Rotavirus virus, which causes gastroenteritis, is passed through the fecal-oral route. This means that the primary source of infection comes from touching the surfaces previously touched by someone who has not washed the hands after using the bathroom. In the same manner, if someone with the virus prepares a food, the food may also become contaminated, especially if it has not undergone heavy cooking and thermal processing. Children are at an increased risk of gastroenteritis since they usually put their hands and various virus-containing objects in their mouths.

Noroviruses are responsible for less than 50% of all cases of gastroenteritis. This infection may include various symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, muscle aches, headache, fatigue and low-grade fever. It is usually spread among people in confined spaces, and most commonly from contaminated food and water.

Preventing gastroenteritis

It is very hard to isolate from viruses that may cause gastroenteritis. People are in contact with other people, public spaces, and potentially contaminated objects, food and water on a regular daily. However, one can easily stop the spreading of the virus, and prevent it from entering the body, by washing hands on a regular basis, eating properly prepared and stored food, bleaching soiled laundry, by using separate personal items around the home, and avoiding close contact with someone who probably has the virus. When traveling, one should drink only well sealed bottled water and avoid ice cubes in the drinks. One should not eat any raw food, including meat and fish. Last but not the least; one can get a preventive vaccine to protect the person from gastroenteritis caused by the rotavirus.

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