The different types of viruses which cause stomach flu have an incubation period. It is first important to know what a stomach flu is. Stomach flu is an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract which involves the stomach and the intestine. It can be caused by certain viruses, bacteria, toxins, parasites, food allergies or even medication.  The virus can be transferred to the stomach or the intestines through contaminated food or water.

A virus is incubated in the organ for a certain period of time before it manifests itself in the form of stomach flu symptoms. An incubation period can be defined as the time elapsed between exposure of the virus to an organ and when the symptoms and signs are first apparent. In other words, incubation is the period between the time when the virus enters the body till the symptoms of the infection begin showing themselves.

Abdominal painDuring the incubation period, the virus which has entered the organs starts multiplying within the small intestine. The symptoms of the infection start manifesting themselves after a few days, depending on the type of virus which has caused the illness. In some cases the incubation period can be as short as just four or five hours.

Different types of viruses

There are different types of viruses which can cause stomach flu. These are as follows:

  • Norovirus and Norwalk virus, which mostly affects adults and is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis or stomach flu.
  • Rotavirus which affects infants, toddlers and young children causes diarrhea and may result in dehydration.
  • Astrovirus also causes diarrhea in children.
  • Adenovirus which usually affects the respiratory tract but may also affect the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Sapovirus which causes a mild form of stomach flu in children.

The norovirus

In the case of norovirus the incubation period, before the symptoms are manifested is usually one to three days. The patient can spread the infection to others right from the time he starts feeling sick till two or three weeks after he is cured of stomach flu. Normally the patient is not contagious during the incubation period of this virus.

The rotavirus

On the other hand, those who contract the rotavirus, which usually causes diarrhea in children, will be contagious during the incubation period till about two weeks after recovery. The incubation period for the rotavirus could be for one or two days. Children are normally contagious for a longer period than adults.

The adenovirus

The incubation period for the adenovirus is usually a week and the patient can spread the infection to others. In the case of stomach flu caused by the astrovirus the incubation period could be for a period of one to three or four days.

Various symptoms

Wooden Mannequin Vomiting

There are various symptoms of the stomach virus. A patient could suffer from nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, fever and muscle aches depending on the type of virus or bacteria causing the infection. Stomach flu cannot be cured but the symptoms could be treated. Fluids are normally given during the illness to avoid dehydration. The patient can have bland and semi solid food when he is recovering from stomach flu.

As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”. To prevent an attack of stomach flu one must maintain hygiene. Hands should be kept clean before eating and handling food. The hands should be washed thoroughly, preferably with an antiseptic soap or hand wash, after using the toilet or changing a baby’s diapers. Hand sanitizers should be kept handy when on the move.

Stomach infection can spread from one person to another through close contact or shared utensils. It is wise to stay to prevent infection by maintaining habits of cleanliness, during the stomach flu incubation period or even after the symptoms have been cured.


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