How can stomach flu (gastroenteritis) be prevented?

Since stomach flu can be caused by multiple factors, getting the flu vaccination alone isn’t enough to protect you from gastroenteritis. Children should follow the standard vaccination schedule and get the rotavirus vaccination when indicated. This vaccination can protect your child from getting sick from the rotovirus but not all children can receive this oral vaccination, so please check with your pediatrician before doing so.

You can take other steps to reduce your risk of getting stomach flu:

Practice good handwashing

When you’re sick, the virus spreads from anything that comes in contact with virus-infected feces. Good handwashing is vital in stopping the spread. Viruses left on hands can easily spread to surfaces, food and people you touch. It’s important to wash your hands well after you go to the bathroom, change a diaper, touch any bathroom surfaces and before you handle food.

Be careful with food

You can catch stomach flu from contaminated food or water, or pass it on to someone else. To keep viruses out of your food:

  • Clean kitchen surfaces with a disinfectant (cleaner that kills germs), especially when working with raw meat or eggs.
  • Keep raw meat, eggs and poultry away from foods that are eaten raw.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat, eggs and shellfish.
  • Consume only pasteurized dairy products and apple juice. Pasteurization is a heating process that kills germs.
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Drink bottled water and avoid ice cubes when traveling, especially in developing countries. Unfamiliar germs that live in the water can make you sick.
  • · Stop making food for others when you’re sick and for two days after symptoms are gone.

Clean sick areas

Clean anything that you may have touched while you were sick with stomach flu. Wash laundry with hot water and dry with high heat. Be sure to use a disinfectant to clean areas where a sick person vomited or had diarrhea.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy