Answer: Don't get stomach flu viruses in your mouth.
When someone in your household comes down with the stomach flu (viral gastroenteritis), it is highly likely that someone else will come down with it in approximately 48 hours. When you have a baby or toddler who is throwing up all over you and grabbing at their sore bottom while you change their diarrhea filled diaper (and then grab your face on the way to the bathtub), it is very difficult to protect yourself. However, if an older child or adult is sick, you have a much better chance. I have gotten dozens of e-mails from people telling me that they did successfully contain the stomach flu to just one person in their house. So, it is possible. If anyone has successfully contained the stomach flu to just 1 person in your house, please e-mail me your secrets and I'll post them here.
These are my suggestions for containing the spread of the stomach flu once someone in your house comes down with it:
There are some things you can do to reduce your risk of catching the stomach flu in the first place. These common sense practices help you avoid lots of other illnesses as well. Some of these suggestions may seem extreme to you, but they are for people who really, really don't want to get the stomach flu.
Please e-mail me your own comments and suggestions for avoiding the stomach flu. My e-mail is phd.annie at gmail.com.
--Annie Pryor, Ph.D.
AVOIDING GERMS AT THE PEDIATRICIAN'S OFFICE
I can't tell you how much your website has helped me. I'm definitely an emetophobe, and have been since I was a child. Since having children, I've become very good at handling my own children vomiting, but I still live in fear of experiencing it myself. I think the worst part (for me) is the anticipation of it happening. Last October, I started working part-time at a pediatrician's office....can you imagine?!? My co-workers find my obsessive hand washing rather amusing. Anyway, I thought I'd give you a few tips from an "insider"....Of course, every doctor's office is different in how they clean and handle infectious situations. I do consider the office I work for to be a great group of pediatric doctors, so I can only assume that most offices are somewhat similar.
-Doctor's offices do NOT clean that well. They are busy and rushed, and most of the time they pull down fresh paper on the exam table and that's it. At the end of the day, a hired cleaner comes in, but there is definitely no hard core scrub down. If a child vomits in a room, it's mopped up with a NON-bleach solution and in a rushed manner.
-Stay AWAY from the sticker bucket! Ask the receptionist to grab a clean sticker from their supply in the back. I can't tell you how many actively vomiting children stick their hands into that bucket every day and put several stickers back before selecting one.
-Clean the bottom of your shoes and stroller wheels after leaving the doctor. I cringe when I see people walk right over a spot that was recently vomited on.
-I recommend changing clothes if you choose to sit in the chairs in the waiting room, or in the exam room. I don't think I've ever seen these cleaned.
-If you arrive at the office and there's a child in the waiting room who is hanging over a bucket, you can request a face mask. Most offices have them readily on hand.
-Use your own pen, and clean off your credit card if you pay with it at the office. The receptionist is sharing pens with everyone (including that Mom that just changed her baby's diarrhea diaper in the middle of the waiting room, and then didn't wash her hands!) Plus, I've worked with three receptionists recently who had the stomach bug and came back to work the next day, even though they still were not feeling well.
I hope these tips can help you, and maybe others, in the future. I'm vigilant about hand washing, take a daily probiotic and vitamins C and D to boost the immune system, and try to get 8 hours of sleep every night. I know it won't completely protect me from the evil stomach virus, but I'm sure that it helps (most definitely the hand-washing). Thank you again for your wonderful site! I've bookmarked it and look forward to updates and new info.
Change clothes and shoes after leaving the sick room.
Lysol everything in the bedroom and bathroom where the person is contained before it leaves the room, and no one goes in but me ( or my husband if I'm the sick one, it happened once). I leave a trash bag at the door, and a pile of clean clothes, take off what I was wearing when in the room, put it in the bag, and slip on new clothes. Trash bag goes to the laundry room once a day or more as needed. Same with shoes, I leave if at the door. That seems to have worked. I also pray a lot, if you are a believer, that helps tremendously, if anything for some peace in your heart. Just saw your post about your husband, so sorry.
HORRIBLE STOMACH BUG THAT I MANAGED TO KEEP FROM SPREADING
My 6 year old daughter had a terrible stomach bug that caused her to vomit about 10 times the first day and off and on for 3 more days. She couldn't even keep sips of water down. I finally took her to the ER and they gave her Zofran which stopped the vomiting. It was a small zofran tablet that melted in her mouth. I know she caught the virus from school because the stomach flu was really going around her school. Plus, 3 days before she got sick she said "Mommy, I saw 3 kids throw up at school today." I also have a 5 year old and a 12 year old and worked very hard to makes sure no one else caught my daughter's illness. I kept her quarantined in her room and no one went in there but me. So, I would have been the person most likely to catch it. It has now been 1 month since Katie was sick and I am amazed that no one else in the family caught it. I went to great lengths cleaning to keep the family healthy. The only thing I didn't do was wear disposable gloves. This is what I did.
- My daughter vomited into a white plastic trash can lined with a trash bag. She did not go to the bathroom to vomit. Immediately after a vomiting session, I tied up the trash bag and walked it out to the garage trash can. I sprayed the door knobs and trash can handle when I was done. I put a new trash bag into the trash can next to her bed.
- I washed my hands in the bathroom, then sprayed the sink/faucet/door knob and whole door with Lysol. Then I left the bathroom and Purelled my hands just to be sure. I used medical grade Pseurell given to my by a friend who works for the Purell company. I did this each time I stepped foot in her room - even if I didn't touch her or anything.
- My daughter was quarantined to her bedroom for 5 days. She only came out to pee on the potty a few times.
- All other children were moved out of the kids' bathroom onto our bathroom and didn't step foot back in there for 13 days.
- No other child was allowed to go into her room at all. My husband barely went in.
- I used up 2-1/2 large cans of spray Lysol within one week.
- I used up a full regular size Clorox bleach within 5 days.
- I bleached all laundry - even darks.
- I turned up my hot water heater to be sure the hot laundry was hot enough. I knew I had tons of laundry to do and many showers to take. In addition, I wanted my dishwasher to be hot enough.
- I sprayed the laundry baskets inside and out with Lysol after every use paying attention to underneath the handle. I made sure not to brush against myself with the laundry or basket containing her dirty laundry.
- I sprayed the laundry room floor with Lysol
- I washed all clothing/bedding/pillows/comforters in hot water (even my daughter's pony tail holders)
- I sprayed the washing machine lid/lip with lysol after putting dirty laundry in
- I sprayed the bathroom sink/faucet/toilet with Lysol after every use
- I Lysoled off the pump of the Purell
- I Lysoled off the pump of all liquid soap bottles.
- After a vomiting session with her, I changed my clothes as soon as possible. I kept my clothes in with her clothes in a separate laundry basket.
- Even though my daughter was not around the family for 5 days, I used Clorox Cleanup several times a day on the following: kitchen counters, faucet, knobs, remote controls, handrails, kitchen table, etc.
- I washed my dishes on the "sanitize" setting on my dishwasher. I was sure to take my daughter's dishes straight from her room to the dishwasher. Then I Clorox Cleanup-ed the sink and dishwasher handle each time.
When she was well and ready to join the family, I cleaned her room again. Here's what I did:
- took all her bedding straight to the washing machine. Washed it all on hot water with bleach. Dried on highest temp. Lysol sprayed the outer surfaces of the washing machine that the dirty laundry had touched. I even washed her pillow for the third time in the course of this illness.
- all toys, dolls, books, etc. on shelves in her room were coated with Lysol until wet and left to dry. Anything that was not valuable was thrown away (notebooks, tissue boxes, chap stick). Stuffed animals were washed in hot water.
- I threw away her toothbrush and toothpaste and gave her new ones. I sprayed the bathroom drawer where her toothbrush was kept with Lysol.
- Her fabric headboard and bedskirt were sprayed with Lysol
- The inside and outside of her bedroom door was sprayed with Lysol.
- Her entire carpet was sprayed with Lysol until damp.
- The hallway carpet from her bedroom to the steps was sprayed with Lysol until damp.
- While cleaning, I opened her window to let in fresh air and so I wouldn't choke on all the Lysol even though it was 28 degrees out.
- I used Clorox Cleanup on all bathroom surfaces (tub, sink, floor, toilet). Then I "fogged" the whole bathroom with Lysol before I shut the door and turned on the fan for several hours.
-We are Catholic and I did a LOT of praying!
It was a ton of work and stress but NO ONE ELSE GOT SICK!
The key is isolation, one sick bathroom, plastic bag-lined buckets only for the act. Plus, you never know if it hits both ways, the bucket is the only way to go. It is easier to dispose of and at your beck and call wherever you are. Less mess overall which is the key to eliminate spread and aerosolization. The only thing I would add (to Christine's comment above) is that I have a family of 4 and we each have our own bucket ready to go when it strikes. We ALWAYS all keep our toothbrushes separate from each other, not out in the bathroom but stored away. When sick, no toothbrushing, just swooshing with listerine and replacement of the toothbrush and paste when in the clear. We use paper cups, paper towels, and disposable everything for quick removal and immediate disposal.
LOTS OF PRAYER
Just wanted to let you know what happened to me last year. My husband got the stomach flu in November 2011. He is a nuclear medicine technologist and works with patients all day long. He came home one evening, we ate dinner and he drank out of my glass that evening. Later on the night, he started having severe diarrhea and then started in with the vomiting. It was so bad and he was getting so weak, I called 911. They came out and of course, he said he was fine. The symptoms persisted and he became worse. I ended up taking him to the hospital and he was vomiting while we were checking in. I was terrified I was going to get it because he had been drinking out of my glass. I have Addison's disease and it can be fatal for me if I start vomiting and can't stop so I was really, really scared. I started praying immediately when he was in the hospital and prayed and prayed and prayed that I wouldn't get it. I was praying nonstop seriously. He was in the hospital for over 8 hours and then they released him with a bunch of meds to stop the vomiting and diarrhea. I did not get sick. I had cleaned up after him and I wasn't wearing gloves. I think the praying really helped. I prayed for the whole 8 hours, I know it sounds excessive but I really didn't want to get it with me having Addison's disease. I am paranoid every year that he or I will come down with the stomach flu.
PUREGREEN24, Oil of Oregano, and Lactobacillus Reuteri,
Hello, I just wanted to share a few things in my personal arsenal, as an emetophobe, because I keep thinking, "I need to tell the group about this!" every time I'm using them:
1. PureGreen24: all-natural, non-toxic disinfectant that kills norovirus. I use it on everything. Kind of expensive, but well-worth it, I say. I use a lot more during the winter, as you might imagine. Has somewhat of a residual 24-hour disinfectant nature. Google it and you'll find the website, where you can order it and read about it.
2. Oil of Oregano: I get mine from wonwithnature.com. It is a very powerful, all-natural virucide, antibiotic, etc. I don't have perfect scientific proof, but I got the bug that was going around last winter that was brutal on most people I knew, and I took this every hour while I was awake, a few drops at a time, and I did not vomit, and I think I got it in a much milder form. Google it and you will find a ton of info on it. I've been using it for years with no side effects. Also, check out this page: http://blog.listentoyourgut.com/wild-oregano-oil-antiviral-protocol-for-swine-flu/ It references swine flu, but this page is a protocol for stomach "flu", and it's the one I use.
3. Lactobacillus Reuteri, again Google it and you will find lots of articles on how it can prevent or lessen stomach viruses, particularly in children.
Okay, gotta go back to mom duty, but hope this is helpful!
Tips for containing the spread of a stomach virus
Hello…my name is Tracey and I came across you website about a week ago when my 17-year-old son came down with some kind of NASTY stomach bug. I noticed that you asked if anyone was able to contain the illness to only 1 person in the household, to email you and share tips.
It’s been 8 days since my 17-year-old son started the symptoms at 1:30 in the morning…sudden vomiting, diarrhea, and then shaking chills. I’ve been able to keep this away from my almost 3-year-old son, myself and my husband so far, and I’m still hoping we’re past it!
So here’s the tips. First of all, I knew for a more than a week before this happened that my son was exposed to the virus at his girlfriend’s house. (TIP #1 – STAY CLEAR IF YOU HEAR SOMEONE IS SICK.) I warned him to stay away until it ran its course, but being a teenager, he didn’t listen. As soon as I knew he was still frequenting his girlfriend’s house, I started disinfecting everything he touched with bleach (diluted 1:10 with water and wiped off with paper towels, NOT cloth rags). I did phones, remotes, doorknobs, countertops, microwave, refrigerator, toilet, etc…any surface he might have touched. I also cleaned my wood floors with a bleach solution and sprayed my carpets with the Lysol III spray that claims to kill Norovirus. So, the virus ran through his girlfriend, her sister, her mother and then finally her father, and my son STILL felt untouchable. One day after his girlfriend’s dad felt sick, I had early Easter dinner on Saturday at my house, and my son was there briefly and had contact with some family members. None of them came down with the illness. He started feeling sick at 1:30 a.m., and my 3-year-old was safely sleeping in his room with his door shut, and my husband and I were sleeping in our bedroom as well with the door shut.
I got up briefly a few times with my son when I heard him being sick to help him out (having NO hands-on contact with him). I had him promptly take his soiled underwear (nasty bad surprise for him) outside to the garbage container. He showered after he vomited and had diarrhea the first time. I instructed him to wash his hands each time he was sick, which went on for almost 8 insufferable hours, for him and me, cause I heard it all thru the walls. When my little one woke up in the morning, I quickly shuffled him from his bedroom and out the door, where we promptly went to grandma & grandpa’s house for Easter Sunday dinner and spent the night. My husband went home that night and disinfected every possible surface he could with diluted bleach (wearing gloves AND mask, and washing meticulously afterwards), sent my sick son (no longer vomiting) to his room in the basement, and slept at home.
It doesn’t stop there! I actually locked off the bathroom my son was sick in for a week and did not allow anyone but him to use it. I kept my 3-year-old out of that bathroom (where he usually takes his bath) and gave him showers in the other bathroom. I also kept him out of the living room and off the couch, where my older son had slept in between bouts of being ill. I did not allow my little one to touch any surface that might have still harbored germs. I pretty much kept him confined to his own room, my room or outside the house. This is VERY difficult! I did not allow him to eat anything ANYWHERE but my bedroom in the first few days, because toddlers touch everything and put their fingers in their mouths. In the meantime I used the Lysol III spray on the furniture and carpet multiple times and continued bleaching touched surfaces, even spraying dishes used by my ill son with bleach solution before putting them in the dishwasher on HI TEMP WASH. I threw out all boxes of Kleenex and bought new ones.
In addition…I had my son bag the bathroom rug, the toilet seat cover and all towels that were near the toilet where he was sick and had him carry them out to the GARBAGE himself when he felt better (When in doubt, throw it out, just like food). Then, as overkill, I rinsed all the items that were on the countertop in the bathroom in bleach solution (hair spray, makeup, anything on the counter). I did all laundry in HOT water and added bleach as I could. I have also been meticulously bleaching countertops, chairs, tables, doorknobs, and anything my little one might touch, for the last week!
I’m sorry for such a long story (I’m definitely emetophobic and a little OCD after this), but I really think the simple answer is this: If you want to avoid this virus, clean daily with bleach solution and wash your hands…and make sure all others wash their hands…not just before eating but as soon as they come in the house. And continue to disinfect surfaces the ill person has touched long after they are feeling better.
And lastly and maybe most importantly…another thing I’m thinking…watch out for the feet! If someone is vomiting/having uncontrollable diarrhea at the toilet and walks out of the room…how much got on their feet and contaminated the rest of the household? And how…in heaven’s name..do you control that….I used Lysol spray on the carpet but I’ve heard deep steam cleaning might be the only way to be sure. I can’t go that far on my budget now.
Thanks so much for your website and all your information, helping the OCD/emetophobe…
More tips to avoid stomach bugs
Stomach flu prevention
Thank you for your website full of tips. I have been a germophobe for a couple of years now and really cannot remember the last time I was sick---including colds and certainly including the memorable stomach flu. I recently read Germ Proof Your Kids , a primer on the germs behind common illnesses, written by a pediatrician and infectious diseases specialist (Harley Rotbart). I do not have kids but read the book because my husband is immunocompromised due to TNF blockers taken for a chronic condition. I summarized his tips that would certainly be applicable to avoiding the stomach flu, among other things, here.
I just wanted to post that over the past year, I have learned a lot about nutritional health and how important eating REAL, healthy foods, rather than all the processed stuff that is available now. It has been SO beneficial to the health of my entire family. We rarely eat sugar, and have eliminated most processed foods, and our immune systems are so much healthier. So far this year, I've only had to deal with my 4 yr old with a runny nose once. Maybe it's just luck, but I think it has a lot to do with eating healthier. Just a thought...
I wanted to let you know, we have gone to the indoor play area at the mall, several times, without ever becoming sick. Of course, I only go on weekdays, when most people are at work and school, and in the months when sicknesses aren't so prevelant. Also, we immeadiately wash our hands with soap and water when we're finished playing. AND, I have, also, taught my daughter not to put her hands in her mouth or touch her nose or eyes if she hasn't just washed her hands. But, I do agree with you that they are probably one of the most germ-infested places around. My niece's daughter picked up whooping cough from an indoor play area. I think being in indoor groups is a HUGE factor in becoming sick more often. My friend has a daughter almost the same age as mine (2), and she has been sick multiple times the past few months, and she stays in the church nursery 2 to 3 times a week. In fact, she is sick right now with a horrible stomach virus picked up from a boy that had diarrhea at church nursey this past week.
Tips to avoid the stomach flu from Kristin
ONLY MY DAD GOT SICK
I have read your site a lot once when my dad came down with the stomach flu. Me, my mother, and my brother were all in the household during this time. Behold, as you will be blown away at what I am going to say:
MY PARENTS NEVER GOT IT
I was just reading at your site where you asked if anyone has had someone in their family have the stomach flu and if no one else got it to email you. When I was little when me and my brother would get the stomach flu neither of my parents ever got it one time. And when I got it when i was 12 years old no one else got it and my brother has gotten it several times and me and my parents never got it. The stomach flu scares me to death. The last time I had it was when I was 12 years old in 1984 and I'm now 40 years old.and just a couple years ago where i work someone threw up on the floor and down the hallway and my supervisor cleaned it up and so did another person and neither one of them got sick. I was so glad that i wasn't there that day. But I wanted to tell you because i saw where you said you don't know anyone who has avoided the stomach flu like that but they really have. and it only spread at our house when me and my brother were in grade school but just between me and him, not my parents and sometimes we did throw up on the bed or floor and they stayed right with us and cleaned it up.