The best way to prevent the spread of intestinal infections is to follow these 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 and 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, faucets and doorknobs, 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:
Nov. 10, 2017
- 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.
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- Matson DO. Viral gastroenteritis in children: Prevention and treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 21, 2014.
- Travelers' health: Food and water safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/food-water-safety. Accessed Oct. 21, 2014.