Is it contagious and is Christmas cancelled?
December 20, 2013 4:03 PM   Subscribe

The person my mom lives with has a gastrointestinal virus or some such thing. He is still symptomatic. My mom does not have it, but is she contagious? Gross-ish detail to follow.

I'm torn about this because my mom tends to exaggerate. I think it has to be some foodborne thing rather than a virus mainly because my mom doesn't have it and she says he ate some raw-ish beef, but I don't know if those illnesses are contagious...

Dude has...bloody diarrhea (to tranlsate, maybe a little bit of blood in stool for a day or so). And cramping. No throwing up. For about 7 days or so at this point (let's say 4 days). I don't know how bad it is now but apparently he is still symptomatic. The doctor was afraid he could have Norwalk virus, but tests have come back negative, along with everything else they tested him for. No idea if it's bacterial or virus. He was diagnosed with an ulcer recently. He got results back from a colonoscopy recently, so if there was something wrong there I would know.

My mom's not sick, but what are the chances she is contagious? If so, we'll have to postpone our Sunday Christmas celebration. There are small kids involved.
posted by kitcat to Grab Bag (17 answers total)
Sorry, would they be coming to your house? Or would christmas be taking place at the home of the bloody shitting?
posted by elizardbits at 4:06 PM on December 20, 2013 [6 favorites]

Thanks for making me laugh out loud. No, it would be at my house. I wouldn't consider going over there.
posted by kitcat at 4:16 PM on December 20, 2013

Are you having Christmas at her house?

If she is hosting, I think you should put a pin in it but imagine that it could be cancelled if/when she becomes symptomatic, and/or if her roommate or partner or whoever is contagious*.

If someone else is hosting, I would not worry about this until she is symptomatic. I think canceling Christmas because one person might have been exposed to a stomach bug is a bit premature.

That said, if mom comes down with norovirus tomorrow, do what you have to do.

*He should go to the doctor! Bloody diarrhea and diarrhea for a week is not good, regardless of whether it's a virus or food poisoning.
posted by Sara C. at 4:21 PM on December 20, 2013

This is really about your personal level of risk-acceptance, isn't it? Even if your mom doesn't come down with it, she could still be contagious and not show outward symptoms.

Myself personally, I would under no circumstances subject my little kid to the possibility of catching this. But if you tend to be more casual, or if your mom is willing to be super conscientious about hygiene, maybe you would roll with it.

(I used to be more laid back about catching stuff, but one time my dog got Parvo, which was my fault - I visited my friend's house, where her dogs had had Parvo a month prior; they were well by the time I went there. But I carried it into my home on my shoes or on my clothes, and my dog got suuuuuper sick and nearly died. Hence, I'm extra cautious now about communicable diseases).

How would your mom feel if your kids ended up getting sick? Would it be worth it to her to postpone her visit for a week?
posted by vignettist at 4:34 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

If he's tested negative for the common viral types I wouldn't worry terribly about your mom being contagious. Those things are bad news precisely because they're so obvious and durable. At the same time have some alcohol gel (Purell, etc.) squirt bottles at hand and make everyone use them.
posted by dhartung at 4:41 PM on December 20, 2013

Did you see this one from a few days ago? Be sure to read it all the way to the bottom.
posted by Houstonian at 5:44 PM on December 20, 2013

Did a run with the Norovirus just after Christmas a few years ago. It was awesome. My son got it first, then mostly recovered. My wife, who was pregnant at the time, got it - and I took her to the hospital three hours in just so nothing went wrong (it was a gooooood call) I made it home, got my son to bed, the dogs out, and then settled in for 26 hours of hell. My in-laws drove 3 hours to pick up our son to take care of him, my wife came home, and she and I suffered through a few days worth of recovery before we could pick him up.... it was awful.

Then of course, my in-laws got it. All I'm saying is it took most of the month of January for everyone to recover - December 26th to January 21st if you want me to be precise.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:20 PM on December 20, 2013

bloody diarrhea (to tranlsate, maybe a little bit of blood in stool for a day or so)

Bypass discussion with exaggerating mom and talk directly to dude with symptoms.

Bloody diarrhea is an entirely different thing than a little bit of blood in stool for a day or so.

Bloody diarrhea = a nasty gastroenteritis or colitis that you wouldn't be blamed for taking extreme measures to avoid.

A little bit of blood in stool for a day or so, in a dude with known ulcer, if he actually has formed stool with no increased frequency of bowel movements and not diarrhea, is much more likely to be hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, bleeding from the ulcer, or some other non-contagious issue. Especially hemorrhoids.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:27 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

additional note: given abdominal cramping, less likely hemorrhoids but still unlikely infectious. Having blood in your intestines can cause cramping and nausea on its own, however it gets there.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:29 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Having recently survived a bout of what was likely the Noro virus, all I can say is STAY AWAY. Either that or volunteer to go over there and disinfect every possible surface anyone might have even the remote chance of touching. To spare everyone else in the house I made serious efforts to control what I came in contact with and cleaned the hell out of it.

This is not a post-Holiday 'gift' you want to take home. Especially not with kids cooped up during Winter break.

I'll say this, it IS the sort of thing that I absolutely WOULD WISH ON MY WORST ENEMIES.
posted by wkearney99 at 7:08 PM on December 20, 2013

I will defer the medical side to treehorn+bunny but I must tell you that 2 Christmasses ago, my dear, sweet, beloved, idiot sister-in-law brought my nephews to Christmas dinner 2 days after they "recovered" from a weeklong stomach bug. Of the eighteen people who attended, 16 fell ill. I spent 2 days in hospital, so that may explain why I'm still somewhat bitter. Diarrhea doesn't sound much better than vomiting. Postpone your festivities, better safe than sorry.
posted by notaninja at 7:36 PM on December 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ok then, in general my rule of thumb for life is to avoid people who are having any kind of explosions from their digestive system, either end, bloody or not. I would cancel.
posted by elizardbits at 7:40 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's hard enough to avoid getting sick under normal circumstances when you don't know whether the person next to you lives with someone in the throes of bloody diarrhea. This time you're being given a flashing red warning signal, a chance to avoid spending January on the toilet. Take it!
posted by HotToddy at 10:16 PM on December 20, 2013

Gastrointestinal illness/foodborne illness can be contagious. I can't say if that person is contagious or if your mom got anything. It depends on the incubation period or how long it takes to develop symptoms of such a disease. Currently she seems to be in a normal state of health.

All I can say if your mom starts showing symptoms, then it would be a good idea for her to stay home or Christmas to be postponed. Now if she has no symptoms, just have her wash her hands well and stay away from food preparation or feeding the kids as a safety measure.

At least Norovirus/Norwalk virus is ruled out. That virus is very contagious even though people recover quickly. The reason it is so contagious is because it can be transmitted by air (due to the vomit) or the diarrhea so it usually spreads pretty quickly.

Happy Holidays! Hope this helps.
posted by LadyAerin at 11:35 PM on December 20, 2013

January 6th - the 12th day of Christmas - is Epiphany, sometimes called Little Christmas, celebrated in many countries with gift giving. Could you reschedule your Christmas to that date? Would that give the boyfriend a chance to recover or get a realistic diagnosis?
posted by Cranberry at 1:12 AM on December 21, 2013

Last year, my grandmother in law got a tummy bug before Christmas. She passed it to my father-in-law, who ended up in the hospital. My mother-in-law also got it. When my husband and I went to visit them, we were compulsive about handwashing and hygiene because neither of us wanted the death poop plague.

Christmas eve, we left his parents and went to visit mine two hours away. After dinner, my husband got very sick and spent the next two days destroying my parents' guest bathroom. My folks and I were resigned at that point that we, too, were going to catch death poop plague. Surprisingly, my husband got better and my folks and I never caught it.

It's weird, my husband and I followed the same procedures to stay clean, and there's no real rational reason that he caught it and I didn't. However, knowing what I know now, there's no way in hell I'd go stay with his parents while they were so sick, nor would I have let his mother handle food for us. The hell that my husband went through last year was really not worth it.
posted by teleri025 at 11:02 AM on December 21, 2013

Yeah...after reading all of these horror stories we decided to postpone. I was obviously in denial. Thanks! You might have saved Christmas.
posted by kitcat at 12:11 PM on December 23, 2013

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