Each year, the winter period is marked by waves of gastroenteritis, a highly contagious disease. Here’s everything you need to know about gastro and our advice on how to avoid catching it.
Nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea… The symptoms of a gastroenteritis do not make you dream, and will clearly not please your loved ones if they catch it in turn (by your fault). The health insurance recommends a three days off work, to allow time between the last vomiting, the last diarrhea and recovery. But it can adapt according to the severity of manifestations of the disease.
How long are you really contagious when you catch gastroenteritis? You feel better, but don’t you risk contaminate allopen space?
What is gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis is an infectious disease that affects the digestive tract. The main symptoms are nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrheawhich appear 24 to 72 hours after infection (incubation period).
Gastroenteritis is contracted by contact with an infected person, or by ingesting contaminated food or water. It can be of viral origin (for example rotavirus), bacterial (for example E-coli) or due to a parasite. It is an extremely contagious disease. According to Public Health France, the number of episodes of acute viral gastroenteritis is estimated at more than 21 million each year in France, with a high concentration during the winter period.
Symptoms: how to recognize gastroenteritis?
In general, the appearance of these symptoms can indicate gastroenteritis:
- nausea and vomiting;
- abdominal pain;
The duration of the gastroenteric syndrome varies from person to person : it can be more or less long and the symptoms can also be more or less violent. In general, the patient feels better within 48 hours of the onset of the disease. Sometimes it can be accompanied by fever.
Transmission of gastroenteritis
Gastroenteritis is a disease very contagious : if your child has suffered from it, you can catch the disease, but also your friends and your family.
The virusparticularly the norovirus, are the most common cause of gastro. Of the bacteria are also commonly involved, such as Escherichia coli, salmonella, shigella or campylobacter. Yes, enough to give chills. But rest assured, most infected people recover from parasitic gastroenteritis.
In all cases, the microbes responsible for the infection spread on the entire faecal-oral route, from the oral cavity to the anus. For transmission to take place, it is therefore necessary that particles of faecal matter… are brought into contact with the mouth.
Sometimes this happens if infected material ends up in drinking water, or contaminates food. But most often it is small particles that remain on the hands after going to the toilet. They end up infect someone else after preparing a meal, or upon contact with an infected surface. The metro bar, for example.
Gastroenteritis: contagious microorganisms that persist
Even if a person feels fully recovered, infectious microorganisms may still be present in their stool during many days (even weeks, for some bacteria). They can also remain in the intestine for long periods, even after the diarrhea has given up. So how long should you stay home? In an article published in The Conversation, Dr Vincent Ho, a gastroenterologist and academic clinician at Western University in Sydney (Australia), explains:
Most advice on returning to work, school or nursery is based on the most common viral gastroenteritis, norovirus, even if the real origin of the disease is only known for very few patients.
If gastro symptoms usually last between 24 to 72 hours, when it comes to contamination by norovirus, patients can therefore return to work 48 hours after the end of his manifestations, he says. A particularly important time to respect for people assigned to the preparation of food, health personnel or children under 5 years old going to the crèche or participating in group activities.
Gastroenteritis: actions to protect yourself and others
But you will have understood it, you can still be contagious for a time for those around you. The only way to know the exact duration is toidentify the microbe at the origin of your pathology, through stool analysis. Most cases of diarrhea are mild, however, and do not require medical attention. Even less carrying out tests.
It is therefore essential to well i know wash your hands with soap, and do it regularly. This is the most effective way to prevent the transmission of germs. Must also immediately and thoroughly disinfect contaminated surfaces by vomit. For this, Dr. Vincent Ho advises using disposable gloves, washing the surfaces with hot water and a neutral detergent, then disinfecting with 0.1% active chlorine bleach. This will limit the risks.