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What are the Different Types of Gastrointestinal Virus?

By T. Carrier
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Gastrointestinal viruses are the most common culprits behind stomach flu, or gastroenteritis. These bugs inflame the stomach and intestines, giving rise to many uncomfortable bodily symptoms. The main types of gastrointestinal virus are noroviruses, rotaviruses, adenoviruses, sapoviruses, and astroviruses.

The most common type of gastrointestinal virus is norovirus, which is responsible for most non-bacterial cases of stomach flu. After nesting in the small intestine, norovirus begins triggering symptoms in roughly two days. T-The result is typical gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, and diarrhea. Other prominent symptoms may include weakness, tiredness, fever, headache, and muscle ache. Norovirus can be transmitted by contact with an infected person or through contaminated food; it also can be airborne, so outbreaks are common.

Rotavirus is a type of gastrointestinal virus that has affected nearly every child in the world. Although its chief symptom is diarrhea, other ailments can include vomiting, dehydration, and a low-grade fever. The virus most often enters through the mouth, and it is commonly transmitted because of poor hand washing after a bowel movement. As with other gastrointestinal viruses, even the smallest amount of exposure can result in infection. Immunity to the virus can develop after repeated exposures.

A less frequent gastrointestinal virus offender is adenovirus. While this bug is usually associated with respiratory system infections, it can facilitate gastroenteritis. Symptoms are similar to those found with other viruses. Transmission typically occurs through water sources, such as overcrowded swimming pools.

Two final types of gastrointestinal virus primarily affect specific age groups. Sapovirus is the second most common virus found in the gastrointestinal tracts of adults. Astrovirus, on the other hand, causes stomach flu in infants and toddlers around the world. Transmission of both occurs through food and water, and those people with weakened immune systems and those in overcrowded conditions are most susceptible. Symptoms of both viruses mimic those of other gastrointestinal viruses.

Prevention and treatment of gastrointestinal viruses are important for individual and community health. Saliva and fecal contact are two of the more frequent agents of transmission, so hand washing and other sanitary safeguards constitute the most effective preventive measures. Likewise, vigilance in crowded areas where both people and environmental surfaces are easily contaminated is of utmost importance. If a person presents with symptoms, some degree of quarantine may be advisable. While most infections abate after a few days, one should seek medical care if symptoms persist or become more severe.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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