Flu in the Grocery Bag?
Stay healthy after Lap Band surgery by protecting yourself from the stomach flu virus.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the flu virus is only contractible through contact with someone who shows symptoms of the illness. The flu can travel on everyday items that you come into contact with—like your grocery bags. A study recently published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases says that this is actually quite possible, as the flu virus can live on contaminated objects for weeks.
Why grocery bags?
We are not talking about the plastic shopping bags that you are given at the store, but instead the big canvas reusable bags that a lot of us tug around everywhere. The study conducted by the Oregon Public Health Division evaluated the way in which the norovirus, which most of us know as the stomach flu, was transported to an entire soccer team after the bag was brought out to the field to deliver snacks. The reason? It turned out that the bag came from a home where someone in the family recently had exhibited symptoms of the stomach flu, and the bag was stored in the bathroom while the person was sick.
You probably don’t realize this, but virus particles from both feces and vomit can fly through the air and land on items that surround the toilet. This bug in particular is highly contagious, and with a particle lifespan that is several weeks long it can be exchanged unknowingly between family members, friends and coworkers, and in this case teammates.
This research is not a warning against using reusable bags—and should certainly not scare you out of the grocery store. Instead, take this as a precaution against carelessness. Those reusable bags are incredibly versatile, but that doesn’t mean you should use one for everything.
- Dedicate bags to specific purposes and don’t use the bag that you plan on putting food in to transport medicine or a change of clothes for a sick child. The bag that you take with you to load up on produce at the farmers market should not be doubling as a gym bag.
- To protect you and your family from the flu and any other airborne illnesses, make sure to wash the bags regularly and don’t take your grocery bag out to the soccer field.
- Store your reusable bags in a safe place, ideally somewhere that is not in the bathroom.
After bariatric surgery it is good to go to the food store and make your own food more often instead of relying on restaurant menus as your primary source of sustenance. However, as you are starting out and still working towards your weight loss goal it is important that you are especially wary of viruses that may be in the air. Remember, obese patients are often more susceptible to the flu, and one flu shot may not offer you the year-round protection that a healthy weight patient may experience. If you are around someone who is coughing or has the flu, contact your physician to try to prevent yourself from becoming ill. After Lap Band surgery, your stomach has been through enough—let’s avoid the stomach flu if we can.