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What increases my risk for viral gastrointestinal infections?

The greatest risk factor for viral gastrointestinal infections is simply exposure to infected people. This is because the viruses that cause the infections are highly contagious and can be spread easily through contact, direct or even indirect. Sharing food, drink, or eating utensils with infected people increases your risk. Poor handwashing habits can put you at higher risk for these or other illnesses. Certain times of year are riskier than others, as some of the viruses that cause gastroenteritis are most active during certain seasons. For example, astrovirus infections are most common in winter, while adenovirus is more common in summer. Places where people gather in groups - restaurants, dormitories, nursing homes, childcare centers, hospitals - tend to see the highest rates of incidence for infection. Swimmers should avoid swallowing water when they swim, especially from public areas. Eating some foods, like oysters from water that is contaminated, also puts you at risk.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.