The best way to prevent the spread of intestinal infections is to follow these common-sense precautions:
- Get your child vaccinated. A vaccine against gastroenteritis caused by the rotavirus is available in some countries, including the United States. Given to children in the first year of life, the vaccine appears to be effective in preventing severe symptoms of this illness.
- Wash your hands thoroughly. And make sure your children do, too. If your children are older, teach them to wash their hands, especially after using the toilet. It's best to use warm water and soap and to rub hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds, remembering to wash around cuticles, beneath fingernails and in the creases of the hands. Then rinse thoroughly. Carry towelettes or hand sanitizer for times when soap and water aren't available.
- Use separate personal items around your home. Avoid sharing eating utensils, glasses and plates. Use separate towels in the bathroom.
- Keep your distance. Avoid close contact with anyone who has the virus, if possible.
- Disinfect hard surfaces. If someone in your home has viral gastroenteritis, disinfect hard surfaces, such as counters, with a mixture of two cups of bleach to one gallon of water.
- Check out your child care center. Make sure the center has separate rooms for changing diapers and preparing or serving food. The room with the diaper-changing table should have a sink as well as a sanitary way to dispose of diapers.
Take precautions when traveling
When you're traveling in other countries, you can become sick from contaminated food or water. You may be able to reduce your risk by following these tips:
Jun. 11, 2013
- Drink only well-sealed bottled or carbonated water.
- Avoid ice cubes, because they may be made from contaminated water.
- Use bottled water to brush your teeth.
- Avoid raw food — including peeled fruits, raw vegetables and salads — that has been touched by human hands.
- Avoid undercooked meat and fish.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed March 20. 2013.
- Viral gastroenteritis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/revb/gastro/faq.htm. Accessed March 20, 2013.
- Viral gastroenteritis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/viralgastroenteritis/index.htm. Accessed May 20, 2013.
- Yen C, et al. Rotovirus vaccines: Update on global impact and future priorities. Human Vaccines. 2011;7:1282.
- Koo HL, et al. Noroviruses: The principal cause of foodborne disease worldwide. Discovery Medicine. 2010;10:61.
- Norovirus for healthcare professionals. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/hcp/index.html. Accessed May 20, 2013.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. Prevention of rotavirus gastroenteritis among infants and children recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR. 2009;58:1. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5802a1.htm. Accessed March 20, 2013.