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Stomach Flu: How long have I been contagious?



How long will I be contagious if I have a stomach flu?

Answer by James M. Steckelberg, MD

They can be contagious, depending on a few days to two weeks virus causing your stomach flu (gastroenteritis). A number of viruses can cause gastroenteritis, including noroviruses and rotaviruses. The contagious time – the time in which a sick person can give the disease to others – is slightly different for each virus.

  • Norovirus. With norovirus – the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in adults and children – you may be infectious as soon as you feel ill. The symptoms usually appear within one to two days. Although you usually feel better after a day or two, you are contagious for up to three days after recovery. Some people may be contagious for up to two weeks after recovery.
  • rotavirus. The symptoms of rotavirus, the leading cause of viral gastroenteritis in infants and young children, are usually one to three days after exposure. However, they are contagious even before you develop symptoms, and up to two weeks after you recover.

The viruses causing gastroenteritis are spread by close contact with infected individuals, e.g. By sharing food or eating utensils and by touching contaminated surfaces and objects. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water and use a hand sanitizer to prevent the spread of these viruses to others.

RotaTeq and Rotarix offer two oral rotavirus vaccines.

Updated: 2015 -01-17

Release date: 2015-01-17


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