The 24-hour stomach flu? No, it’s Gastroenteritis caused by Novovirus Norovirus, Stomach Bug

The myth of the 24-hour stomach flu | Gastroenteritis caused by Novovirus Norovirus, Stomach Bug

Every flu season, millions of people who get their flu shots still come down with a nasty stomach bug that puts them in bed for up to 48 hours. The cause of their suffering is not the flu, which is a respiratory disease transmitted by airborne viruses that can survive up to a month and cause severe or even life-threatening illness.

If you’re sitting on or kneeling in front of the Porcelain Throne, what you’re suffering from is not the flu.

Chances are it’s a case of gastroenteritis, which many people call a stomach bug or food poisoning. It’s an inflammation of the stomach and intestines caused by ingesting a virus or microbe. The associated nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps often subside within a day.

The likely culprit is the highly contagious norovirus, which accounts for half of food-borne diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Norovirus Infection often causes large outbreaks, and on occasion has sent the majority of passengers on cruise ships to their sick beds for a day or two. The vomit and stools of those infected are highly contagious. The virus can linger on the surface of objects for weeks. Approximately 30% of stomach bugs are caused by two similar viruses, the rotavirus and the astrovirus.


Other stomach bugs are triggered by bacteria including salmonella, shigella, staphylococcus, clostridium, and E coli. Exposure usually occurs through the consumption of contaminated food or water. Most people don’t associate their illness with something they ate or drank though, because 24 to 72 hours usually pass before they feel sick.

Worldwide, inadequate treatment of gastroenteritis kills 5 million to 8 million people per year, and it is a leading cause of death among infants and children under the age of five.

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