5 Effective Ways to Avoid the Stomach Flu
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year norovirus causes 19 to 21 million illnesses, 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations, and 570 to 800 deaths. Norovirus is commonly referred to as “stomach flu” and is most prevalent between November and April.
Anyone can get infected with norovirus, and you can get it more than once. Norovirus is extremely infectious and can spread quickly in enclosed spaces like health care settings, daycare centers, nursing homes, cruise ships and schools.
The virus is primarily passed along by:
- Having direct physical contact with an infected person.
- Touching contaminated surfaces or objects, and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth.
- Eating or drinking contaminated foods or liquids.
Norovirus causes many people to become ill with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain each year. You can protect yourself and others by washing your hands with soap and water often. Practicing good hand hygiene is key.
Five simple and effective steps for good handwashing:
- Wet your hands with clean water.
- Lather palms, fingers, nails and backs of your hands with soap.
- Scrub for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands with clean water.
- Dry your hands thoroughly with a clean paper towel.
Proper hand hygiene is like a do-it-yourself vaccine against norovirus. It is a free and easy way to keep ourselves and our families healthier and happier.
About the Author
Melissa G. Morgan, MSN, RN, CIC, CSPDT is the system-wide director for infection prevention at Cone Health.