Although there is a vaccine for influenza, there is no vaccine for the nasty stomach flu or norovirus as it may be called. It causes serious illness, can incapatitate for a number of days and is contagious (you can shed the virus and spread it). Children and elderly are high risk for complictions but everyone is susceptible and anyone can spread it.
It is the one that causes nausea, vomiting, cramps and diarrhea to the point where you want to be in bed, curled up in a ball and as close as possible to a toilet. It hits quickly and hard.
Did you know that just using alcohol santizer instead of washing your hands does not protect you the same as with some flu and cold strains? Why? This type of virus does not have the same cover or “envelope” around it which is what the alcohol santizers help destroy in some cold and flu strains, so it is not that affected by the alcohol. It is however, senstive to bleach.
Can I prevent it? Yes and with a basic and easy routine.
A CDC study in health facilities found those who mostly used hand sanitizers instead of washing with soap and water were 6 times more likely to have stomach flu (gastro) outbreaks in their long term care facility over facilities whose staff washed with soap and water.
- Food preparation areas need constant cleaning and if handling food, washing hands often is a must.
- If you have a dishwasher use it even for small loads as it has higher temperatures then can be tolerated by hand washing.
- If you must hand wash, put on rubber lined gloves and use as high a heat as possible.
- Don’t share. If you have a person in the house who has the stomach flu, isolate that person and what they use.
- Wash affected laundry on high heat. You can also run the machine on its own with some bleach to keep cross contamination at a minimum.
- Clean clean clean any surfaces a person who is ill may or could touch. A bleach based product whether liquid or wipe is best.
- Do a routine wipe down of things like keyboards, phones, remote controls and any other items that people share.
- To prevent a bout of stomach flu going around the office, class, meeting rooms, lunch rooms or coffee areas; Institute a routine of wiping down hard surfaces. Wash hands with soap and water even if you wore gloves while cleaning.
- The virus sheds from an infected person 1-2 days before that person even knows they are sick.
- The virus can live for days on hard surfaces happily waiting for someone to pick them up.
- Drinks lots of fluids- water, milk white or chocolate and real fruit juices. It keeps you hydrated which allows your body to function at its best.
- Eat foods that replenish your system needs, protein, vegetables, grains and reduce those that put stress on the body such as energy drinks and sugars.
From Health Services