Diarrhea Home > Stomach Flu Transmission

A few of the more common stomach flu transmission methods include touching contaminated surfaces, having direct contact with someone who is infected, and eating food that has been contaminated with one of the stomach flu viruses, such as norovirus. In many cases of stomach flu, transmission occurs as a result of food that is contaminated by infected food handlers or preparers.

Stomach Flu Transmission: An Overview

Stomach flu (also known as viral gastroenteritis) is highly contagious and can spread easily from person to person. Viruses that cause the stomach flu can be found in the stool or vomit of infected people. Stomach flu transmission can happen in one of several ways, including:
 
  • Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with a stomach flu virus
  • Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with a stomach flu virus and putting your hands in your mouth
  • 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).
     
People working in daycare centers or nursing homes should pay special attention to children or residents who have stomach flu. The illness is often highly contagious and can spread rapidly throughout such environments.
 

How Common Is Stomach Flu Transmission?

Stomach flu occurs worldwide. Each virus has its own seasonal activity. For example, in the United States, rotavirus and astrovirus infections occur during the cooler months of the year (October to April), whereas adenovirus infections occur throughout the year.
 
Outbreaks of stomach flu can occur in:
 
  • Households
  • Childcare settings
  • Schools
  • Nursing homes
  • Cruise ships
  • Camps
  • Dormitories
  • Restaurants
  • Other places where people gather in groups.
     
If you suspect that you were exposed to a virus in one of these settings or by foods prepared in places such as a restaurant, deli, or bakery, you may want to contact your local health department, which tracks outbreaks of the stomach flu.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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