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Viral Gastroenteritis

What is viral gastroenteritis?

Viral gastroenteritis, often referred to as 'stomach flu' or 'stomach bug', is inflammation of the stomach and intestines due to a virus. It is usually transmitted through close contact with an infected person or by ingesting contaminated food or water. This condition's main symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea and belly discomfort or pain. Symptoms usually last only a few days at most. It is important that the sick person stays well hydrated.


Viral gastroenteritis is usually waterborne or foodborne, meaning the virus can contaminate something that is eaten or used in food preparation. It can be transferred from person to person through close contact.


Typical symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, and sometimes also signs of dehydration.


The diagnosis can usually be made based on the symptoms. Sometimes it is necessary to test the stool for the specific viral cause.


Most cases of viral gastroenteritis are self-limited, meaning they will resolve without treatment. Medical care involves making sure the sick person does not become dehydrated.


Maintaining good hygiene is important in preventing this condition. This is especially important when caring for people with viral gastroenteritis, to avoid spreading the virus further. There are vaccinations available against some viruses that can cause gastroenteritis, such as rotavirus.

Other names for viral gastroenteritis

  • viral gastroenteritis in adults