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Transmission and Prevention of Diarrhea

The viruses and bacteria that can cause diarrhea are highly contagious and can spread easily from person to person. The viruses that cause diarrhea are often found in the stool or vomit of infected people. Transmission can occur in one of several ways, such as:
  • Eating foods or drinking liquids that are contaminated with a diarrhea virus or bacteria
  • Having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms (for example, when caring for someone with the illness, or sharing food or eating utensils with someone who is ill)
  • Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with a diarrhea virus and putting your hands in your mouth.
People can spread diarrhea both before and after they become sick with it. They can sometimes pass a virus that causes diarrhea to other members of the family and to close contacts.
Better hygiene (washing your hands) and sanitation can help prevent the spread of diarrhea in a lot of cases; however, such prevention strategies have not significantly reduced the number of certain types of diarrhea outbreaks, such as those involving rotavirus disease. A new, recently licensed vaccine (RotaTeq®) is the best way to protect your child against rotavirus disease.
(Click Rotavirus Prevention or Rotavirus Vaccine for more information.)

Diarrhea Information

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