When is the stomach flu contagious?

viral GastroenteritisAlso known as the stomach flu, it is an infectious disease that causes vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, fever, weakness and other symptoms. Stomach flu is contagious when symptoms appear, or even after symptoms go away.

This article looks at what causes stomach flu and how the virus spreads from person to person. It also explains when viral gastroenteritis is contagious and what you can do if you or someone in your household has the stomach flu.

when you are contagious

Viral gastroenteritis can be caused by several different viruses. The two most common are:

  • Norovirus: This is the most common cause of stomach flu. Symptoms develop one to three days after exposure, and once you develop symptoms, you can be contagious.
  • Rotavirus: This virus is contagious even before symptoms appear and for two weeks after recovery. Usually, symptoms begin to appear one to two days after exposure.

Patients with viral gastroenteritis are advised to resume daily activities after being asymptomatic for 24 hours. Even so, you can still be contagious three days after recovering and can spread the infection for up to two weeks.

For both viruses, children can spread the infection longer than adults.


Norovirus and rotavirus are the two most common causes of stomach flu. Both are contagious the moment you develop symptoms and can remain contagious for up to two weeks after you recover.

How Stomach Flu Spreads

Stomach flu is spread through contact with the feces or vomit of an infected person. This includes hand-to-mouth behavior, in which you touch something and put your hand to your mouth.

There are several common routes of infection for viral gastroenteritis:

  • use shared utensils
  • eating incorrectly prepared food
  • drinking contaminated water
  • kiss a sick person
  • shaking hands with sick person

Viruses can also be spread through contaminants, that is, by touching objects or surfaces contaminated with the virus.


Stomach flu is spread through contact with the feces or vomit of an infected person, directly from person to person, or indirectly through contaminated objects or surfaces.

Prevention method

There are several ways to prevent viral gastroenteritis from spreading at home:

  • Wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers. You should also wash your hands before and after preparing food or when caring for a sick person. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly. You can also peel them for added security.
  • Cook food thoroughly when someone in the family is sick.
  • Limit the patient’s activities. Don’t let them prepare food or take care of others.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect surfaces and anything the sick person has touched.
  • Wash sheets and clothing that come into contact with sick household members.
  • Avoid reaching your hands to your mouth. Try to teach your kids the same.


To prevent the spread of stomach flu, wash your hands often with soap and water. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly and disinfect any surfaces or objects the sick person has touched. By cooking food and avoiding hand-to-mouth behavior.


Viral gastroenteritis, also known as stomach flu, is caused by viruses such as norovirus and rotavirus. People with stomach flu typically experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, fever, and weakness.

The virus is spread through direct or indirect contact with a sick person’s feces or vomit. This includes kissing or touching a sick person or touching contaminated utensils, surfaces or bedding.

Viral gastroenteritis is contagious the moment symptoms appear and for two weeks after symptoms disappear. To prevent the spread of infection, isolate sick people, wash hands frequently, and cook food thoroughly. You should also disinfect any surfaces or objects that the sick person has touched.

VigorTip words

Stomach flu is unpleasant. Fortunately, most people recover without any complications.

That being said, rotavirus can be very serious, even fatal, in young children. Fortunately, there is a vaccine to prevent infection. The vaccine series should start before the child is 15 weeks old. Children should receive all doses by 8 months of age.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • I have stomach flu, how long should I stay at home?

    People can usually resume normal activities after being symptom-free for 24 hours. Depending on the cause of your stomach flu, you can still be contagious for up to two weeks after your symptoms go away.

    understand more:

    Why you should stay home with a stomach virus

  • What to do with stomach flu?

    Stomach viruses are spread through contact with the feces or vomit of an infected person. Transmission can be direct (through physical contact with a sick person) or indirect (contact with contaminated objects or surfaces). Hand-to-mouth behavior allows the virus to spread.

    understand more:

    How the disease is spread by the fecal-oral route

  • Can COVID-19 cause stomach flu?

    Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are not the most common symptoms of COVID, but they do happen. Unlike the stomach flu, COVID can also cause difficulty breathing, sore throat, cough, and loss of taste or smell. A COVID test can determine if COVID is the cause of your gastrointestinal symptoms.

    understand more:

    Symptoms of COVID-19