Which diarrhea is contagious?


Diarrhea is one of the most common diseases that occur in the population. It is defined by a high stool frequency (> 3 bowel movements per day) and a reduced stool consistency (> 75% water content).

The triggers of diarrhea can be roughly divided into two categories: Infectious and non-infectious. Infectious triggers are viruses and bacteria, which can be highly contagious. Chronic inflammatory bowel disease, food poisoning or food intolerance are non-infectious triggers.

How do I recognize contagious diarrhea?

The most important criterion for assessing infectious diarrhea is the course over time. Before the onset of the disease, those affected feel limp and listless. After about 1-3 days, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea occur. As a result, infectious diarrhea is acute.

In contrast, non-infectious diarrhea is mostly chronic. Examples of this are chronic inflammatory bowel disease (e.g. Crohn's disease) or irritable bowel syndrome. The patients suffer from recurrent diarrhea. Symptoms such as nausea and vomiting are completely absent. In the case of food intolerance, a temporal connection with the meal can be determined. A classic example of this is lactose intolerance. Those affected suffer from gas, abdominal pain and sometimes diarrhea shortly after consuming dairy products.

However, a reliable diagnosis can only be made after a medical examination. As part of this, the blood is examined for infection parameters and a pathogen detection is also looked for in the stool.

Find out all about the topic here: Symptoms of diarrhea.

The incubation period of contagious diarrhea

The incubation time describes the period between the attack of the body by the pathogen and the complete onset of the disease. No general statement can be made, as each pathogen has a different incubation period.

The most common viral pathogens are noro- and rotavirus, both of which have an incubation period of around 1-3 days. The adenovirus takes 5-8 days for the disease to break out. The most common bacterial pathogens are Campylobacter jejuni with an incubation period of 2-5 days and E.coli, which can lead to abdominal pain and diarrhea within hours.

Also read the article: Norovirus- how dangerous is it?

What can I do so that I don't get infected?

If it is an infectious diarrhea, the most important measure is thorough hygiene. Regular hand washing is particularly important here. Alternatively, the hands can also be rubbed with Sagrotan or Sterilium. In addition, the patient's surroundings should be cleaned thoroughly - in particular, the toilet should be disinfected after each use. If possible, a separate toilet should even be used.

In addition, you should keep your distance from the sick person.Ideally, separate sheets, towels and washcloths should also be used. The objects used should then be washed at at least 60 degrees.

You should also be careful when preparing food. Raw foods like meat and fish should be fried enough. Food should be stored in a cool place and spoiled food should be disposed of immediately.

Can you kiss if you have diarrhea?

In order to be able to answer this question, the cause of the diarrhea must be known. If you have diarrhea caused by a food intolerance or chronic bowel disease, there is no need to worry. This diarrhea is not contagious and therefore no precautionary measures need to be taken.

However, if the diarrhea was caused by a bacterial or viral infection, keep your distance from your partner. The infection can be highly contagious and thorough hygiene should be observed (e.g. regular hand washing).

The duration of contagious diarrhea

The duration of the illness depends on the pathogen and your own immune system. Therefore, no general statement can be made.

The duration of a norovirus infection is about 2 days. However, the stool can be infectious for up to 2 weeks afterwards. A rotavirus infection, on the other hand, lasts 1 to 3 days and the viruses are excreted in the stool for another week. With an adenovirus infection, one is contagious for at least 2 weeks after the symptoms have subsided.

The most common bacterial pathogens are the Campylobacter jejuni and E.coli bacteria. They differ in the incubation period, but both pathogens are excreted in the stool for a month.

How long is a norovirus infection contagious? Find out more here.

Is the diarrhea contagious after a rotavirus vaccination?

A rotavirus vaccination is a so-called live vaccine. This means that the pathogen is administered in a living form. However, these pathogens are so weakened that they cannot cause disease in immunocompetent persons. The number of functioning viruses is also kept very low.

Despite these measures, in rare cases abdominal pain and diarrhea occur in children. This diarrhea is not contagious for adults because their immune system is mature and can successfully fight the pathogens.

For more information, see: Vaccination against the rotavirus.