Gastrointestinal (GI) Illness

Gastrointestinal illness (gastroenteritis) is inflammation of the stomach and small and large intestines, and is caused by a variety of disease-causing germs that can be acquired by consuming contaminated food or beverages, or through contact with contaminated recreational water, infected animals or their environments, or infected people or the surfaces they touch.  

The main symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms may include fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, muscle aches, and headache. In general, symptoms begin 1 to 10 days after infection - it is unusual for symptoms to appear less than 24 hours after exposure.

Infections causing gastroenteritis can be viral, bacterial, or parasitic. Norovirus is a common cause of viral gastroenteritis that leads to outbreaks in places like childcares, long term care facilities, restaurants, and cruise ships. 


  • Wash your hands frequently, especially:
    • before eating or preparing food
    • after going to the bathroom or changing a diaper
  • Ensure food is stored, cooked, prepared, and served in a hygienic manner
  • Rinse all fruits and vegetables before eating
  • Do not prepare or serve food for others if you are ill
  • Ensure all water is treated before drinking (especially if camping or backpacking)