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Stomach Illness

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Symptoms | Spread | Prevention | Common "Stomach Bugs"Handwashing

The Trouble with Tiny Turtles


"Stomach bugs" is a term often used to describe stomach illness caused by bacteria or parasites. A person can sometimes be ill just for a few hours or a day or two. Other times the illness can last for days or weeks.

It is important to remember if you are having stomach illness and diarrhea:

  • Stay home until a day passes where you do not have any diarrhea
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Avoid cooking meals for others
  • Disinfect any areas where the bacteria may be (bathroom, kitchen etc.)
  • Do not go swimming or splashing in any source of water (pool, lake, river, splash pad etc.)

What are the symptoms of stomach illness?

  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps or pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Feeling very tired (Fatigue)
  • Feeling ill or unwell (Malaise)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • A person may have one or all of these symptoms. The most common are diarrhea, stomach cramps, and nausea.

If you think you may be sick, please contact your doctor or go to the hospital.

How is stomach illness spread?

This can be different based on what bacteria is causing the illness, but generally:

  • Person to person through eating or drinking bacteria from the stool (poop) of an infected person
    • This bacteria can be on a surface that you touch or in infected food or water
  • Eating undercooked food
  • Eating unwashed food (vegetables, fruit, leafy greens etc.)
  • Contact with pets or animals
    • Contact with pet food (dry or wet)
  • Drinking contaminated water (lake water, pool water, untreated well water etc.)

How do I prevent stomach illness?

Handwashing (more information below):

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially:   
    • before eating
    • before, during, and after cooking food
    • after using the bathroom

Food (more information on the Food Safety page): 

  • Cook your food thoroughly (use a meat thermometer)
  • Do not eat undercooked meats, poultry (chicken, turkey etc.), or eggs
  • Wash vegetables and fruits before eating them
    • Check for "washed and ready to eat" or similar wording on bagged vegetables
    • Do not rewash bagged vegetables that have been washed
  • Do not eat or drink foods with raw milk or raw eggs
  • Avoid drinking lake or pool water

Pets and Animals:

  • Be careful to wash your hands after handling young animals, especially:
    • Puppies and kittens (especially if they have had diarrhea)
    • Calves
    • Goats (kids)
    • Chicks

      • Please do not sleep with chicks or touch them to your face

  • Wash your hands after petting animals or working around where animals live
  • Do not let your pets lick you in the face or mouth

Salmonella is carried heavily by reptiles and amphibians such as snakes, lizards, frogs, and turtles, especially turtles with shells less than 4 inches in diameter. The sale of these "baby turtles" is illegal in the United States.

It is recommended that households with small children do not keep reptiles as pets.

Common "Stomach bugs"

Shigella Bacteria - Rod shaped, covered by numerous thin, hair-like projections.


 Salmonella Bacteria - Gram-negative, rod shaped bacilli


 Campylobacter is an illness causing bacteria.



The Trouble with Tiny Turtles



Handwashing image

 When should I wash my hands?

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After feeding your pet (dry or wet food)
  • After touching pet treats
  • After touching garbage

    How should I wash my hands?



    Why should I wash my hands?


    For More Information


    Contact Information

    1000 Martin Road, Amarillo, TX 79107

    Phone: 806-378-6300 

    Fax: 806-378-6306

    24 Hour Emergency Number: 806-680-8980


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