Gastrointestinal Infections

Gastro-intestinal (GI) Viral Infections

What are gastrointestinal viral Infections?  
Gastrointestinal (GI) viral Infections are infections of the stomach and the bowel caused by viruses.

GI viral infections are often called "stomach flu".   There are a number of viruses that circulate this time of year. Rotavirus and Adenovirus tend to cause diarrhea in young children and Norovirus tends to cause diarrhea in older children and adults.

Diarrhea and Vomiting are the main symptoms. A person may also have headache, fever, and stomach cramps.   GI viral infections are very easy to catch and to spread.   People become ill 1 to 2 days after being around someone with the virus. The illness usually lasts 24-48 hours.

How are GI viral infections spread?
-  Contact with the stool and vomit of a person who are ill with a virus.
-  On surfaces that may have a virus on them.
-  Sharing of food, water or eating utensils like forks and knives with someone who has a virus

How can you prevent catching or spreading a GI viral infection?
-  Wash hands well and often.
-  Do not visit patients in hospital who are ill with GI symptoms and ask your family and friends to do the same.
-  If you become unwell with a GI virus, wait 48 hours after your last bout of vomiting or diarrhea before visiting anyone in hospital or long term care.

Is there a treatment for GI viral infections?  
The most important way of treating GI viral infections is to prevent dehydration. It is important for those who are ill to drink enough fluids to replace what they lose through vomiting or diarrhea.

For more information please contact the communicable disease control office at 637-5417.