Do flu shots prevent intestinal flu or do they just prevent the cold flu?

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Wiki User
2012-01-21 02:31:21

The flu shot only prevents respiratory influenza. It does not

prevent the gastrointestinal "flu" virus that makes you have GI

symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea without the cough and

respiratory symptoms of influenza. The flu that makes you throw up

is not really influenza, it is just an illness that is also caused

by a virus or "bug" (called viral gastroenteritis).

True seasonal respiratory influenza, on the other hand, if bad

enough (or if you are very young or over 65) is more likely to

cause severe complications or even death. The stomach virus usually

doesn't result in the same severity, as long as dehydration is

controlled by drinking plenty of liquids (and perhaps an occasional

sports drink to replenish electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and


The shots you get for seasonal influenza, and the flu vaccine to

prevent the A-H1N1/09 "Swine Flu", are made for protection against

respiratory influenza, not for the "stomach flu".

Fun facts: The intestinal flu is not really the flu. It has been

incorrectly called that for a long time, but is actually called

gastroenteritis and usually is caused by viral infections but might

also be bacterial. Influenza (flu) is a respiratory disease that

only rarely causes any gastrointestinal symptoms. A very common

viral gastroenteritis is what most people call stomach flu, or they

also call it Norwalk flu and is caused by a norovirus.

WikiPedia says:

"Norovirus (formerly Norwalk agent) is an RNA virus (taxonomic

family Caliciviridae) that causes approximately 90% of epidemic

nonbacterial outbreaks of gastroenteritis around the world, and may

be responsible for 50% of all foodborne outbreaks of

gastroenteritis in the US. Norovirus affects people of all ages.

The viruses are transmitted by fecally contaminated food or water,

by person-to-person contact,and via aerosolization of the virus and

subsequent contamination of surfaces."

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