Stomach flu' is not influenza, both can be prevented

Written by ryan. Posted in Uncategorized


Published on January 19, 2011 with No Comments

Winter is the season for flu, but state health officials want to remind Hoosiers the ìstomach fluî is not actually influenza.†However, both can be prevented.††

ìThis time of year, we hear a lot of talk about the flu and we want to be sure the public understands the difference between influenza and what is commonly called the stomach flu,î Pam Pontones, state epidemiologist at the Indiana State Department of Health, said.†ìWe want to help the public prevent both illnesses, but to do so, they need to understand the differences.î

According to Pontones, viral gastroenteritis, or the ìstomach fluî is not actually flu at all.†It is a viral infection of the intestinal tract and it is spread through eating or drinking contaminated food or drink, or by close contact with an infected person.

ìInfluenza vaccinations do not protect against viral gastroenteritis (or the stomach flu),î warns Pontones.†ìPrevention does include frequent hand washing, but also disinfecting contaminated surfaces, promptly washing soiled clothing and avoid preparing food if ill with gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting.î

ìThe best defense against influenza is to get vaccinated,î Pontones said.†ìIn addition, individuals should be sure to practice frequent, thorough hand washing and avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth.† When possible, of course, they should stay away from known infected persons.î

Pontones recommends regular and thorough hand washing in warm, soapy water as a great way to prevent the spread of many illnesses, including viral gastroenteritis and influenza.

ìWhenever you are ill, whether with viral gastroenteritis, influenza, or any other contagious disease, it is important for you to stay home from school or work,î Pontones said.†

Pontones said staying home will not only help you get the rest you need, but will also keep you from spreading your illness to others.

ìIn the coming months, many people will be getting together with families and friends to celebrate the holidays.†Staying healthy and not spreading disease is one of the best gifts you can give them,î Pontones said.†ìWe hope these tips on disease prevention will help every Hoosier get through this winter free from influenza and viral gastroenteritis.î

For more information, contact the State Board of Health at 317-233-1325, or visit

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