While it's commonly called the "stomach flu," viral gastroenteritis has nothing to do with the actual flu. Cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting are the hallmarks of highly contagious gastroenteritis, which gains notoriety when it tears through cruise ships, conventions, etc. Symptoms appear one or two days after exposure to the virus, which is carried in the stool of an infected person. Failure to wash hands after using the bathroom and before handling food or touching surfaces spreads contamination. Several types of viruses are the culprits, and they tend to target certain age groups. Adults are most vulnerable to the Norwalk variety. Children are more commonly affected by the rotavirus. But remember, anyone can catch it, so wash your hands.
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