A brand new examine has revealed that abdomen bugs – resembling norovirus – decreased by greater than half throughout the first six months of the pandemic, which the authors say is because of adjustments in behaviour led to by Covid-19.
The BMJ Open paper discovered that outbreaks of gastrointestinal infections reported to well being companies in England fell by 52% in contrast with the common for a similar interval, and concluded that if individuals continued these hygiene practices – resembling hand washing and social distancing – we might doubtlessly see “sustained reductions in the burden of gastrointestinal illness”.
Not solely would that ease stress on well being companies, it might forestall people’ struggling. As anybody who’s ever skilled a extreme abdomen bug will let you know, it may be a harrowing expertise, with signs resembling vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, splitting headache, aches and pains – or all the above – lasting for days, and spreading like wildfire all through households, faculties and workplaces.
So, how are you going to cut back your danger of contracting a tummy bug? Health consultants reveal the unhygienic practices to keep away from.
“The viruses, bacteria and other bugs that cause gastrointestinal infections are spread by contaminated food, water, or hands,” says Dr Richard Dawood, GP.
He says better ‘hand awareness’ is vital: “Knowing what you have handled, and being sure to wash your hands or use sanitiser immediately before handling food or bringing your hands to your mouth.”
Dr Deborah Lee says that whereas any cleaning soap will do, you should wash your fingers completely: “Bacteria and viruses have a fat and protein coat. Soap molecules attach to the fatty coating and pull it apart, destroying the organism. But it does take 20 seconds for this to happen.”
Hand sanitising gels are helpful in relation to stopping transmission of Covid, however not essentially abdomen bugs.
“Alcohol-based hand sanitisers are ineffective against norovirus – a very common cause of sickness and diarrhoea in the summer months,” says Dr Lee.
“There are some reports of an increase in norovirus infections abroad, possibly due to the use of hand sanitisers. So, this summer, make sure you use soap instead of hand gel, whenever possible.”
“Not washing your sheets can cause ‘sick bed syndrome’,” warns Dr Lee.
“A warm bed containing dust mites, shed skin, other body debris, and faecal contamination, provide a welcome environment for bacteria and viruses to grow and reproduce.”
She recommends altering your sheets “once a week, or more often if you let pets sleep on your bed. If you have asthma or allergies you should wash your sheets once every three to four days.”
Be cautious with towels too, she provides: “Bath towels should be ideally changed every other day, as faecal matter grows on them, especially if they take a long time to get fully dry.”
If you’re not cautious, your kitchen can turn into a breeding floor for bugs.
Dr Sarah Brewer, GP and medical director at Healthspan (healthspan.co.uk) says to keep away from: “Foods that have not been cooked or reheated thoroughly, and foods that have been left out for flies to get at.”
Other danger elements embody: “Not cleaning kitchen surfaces properly and not stopping pets from walking over kitchen surfaces.”
Dr Lee advises: “Wash all fruit and vegetables before use, store meat on a designated shelf at the bottom of the fridge and have a separate chopping board for meat, and for fruit and vegetables.”
“Barbecues and picnics in the summer are notorious for causing gastroenteritis, notably E.coli and campylobacter, which can arise from partially-cooked meat,” says Dr Lee.
It’s essential that you just wash your fingers after touching uncooked meat and hold meat away from different meals. Dr Lee continues: “A good option is to part cook the meat in the oven and finish it off on the barbecue, then you know it has been cooked in the middle. Food must be piping hot.”
Particular care have to be taken by these in high-risk teams, resembling pregnant girls or these with a weakened immune system.
Dr Lee warns that the next can improve the chance of bacterial and viral gastroenteritis: “Sushi and raw seafood; soft cheeses and blue cheeses; raw or partly cooked eggs; pate and processed meats; unpasteurised juices or cider; and water from outdoor streams and wells.”