Increase in Acute Gastroenteritis Cases

The content originally appeared on: The Barnacle News

St. George: The Ministry of Health has observed a significant increase in the number of gastroenteritis cases over the past month, with people aged 5 years and over most affected.

What You Need to Know

Gastroenteritis, commonly known as “gastro”, is caused by infection and inflammation of the digestive tract. Gastro is caused by viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Viruses such as norovirus and rotavirus are the most common causes. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, and nausea.

How Is Gastroenteritis Spread?

Gastroenteritis is highly contagious and primarily spreads via the fecal-oral route. In other words, particles from infected individuals’ feces are transferred to food and water sources. Additionally, coming into contact with vomit from an infected person can spread the virus. The virus may be ingested through contaminated food or water, or by touching a contaminated surface and touching the mouth.

Children in childcare centers are particularly vulnerable due to their close physical interactions and limited understanding of proper hygiene practices.

Preventive Measures:

Thorough Handwashing: Regular handwashing with soap and water is crucial. Encourage everyone to wash their hands thoroughly, especially after using the restroom, before eating, and after handling potentially contaminated surfaces.Disinfection: Regularly disinfect surfaces, especially in high-risk areas like childcare centers, schools, and communal spaces. Pay attention to doorknobs, toys, and other frequently touched surfaces.Hydration: Drinkplentyofwatertopreventdehydration.Whilegastrousuallygoes away on its own within a few days, staying hydrated is essential to prevent complications. Ensure your drinking water is safe for consumption. Boil water when in doubt.Safe Food Handling Practices: Ensure proper cooking, preparation and storage of food to prevent contamination. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consumption.Seek Medical Attention: If your symptoms persist beyond 48 hours, if there’s blood or mucous in your stool, if vomiting persists, or if you feel significantly unwell, it’s essential to seek medical attention promptly. If you’re uncertain or have any concerns, do not hesitate to consult your doctor for advice.Isolation: Individuals with suspected or confirmed cases of gastroenteritis should refrain from visiting shared areas like dining spaces, gyms, or social areas. It’s crucial to prevent the transfer of affected individuals to unaffected areas to mitigate the risk of further spread.

Let’s work together to curb the spread of gastroenteritis and protect our community. For more information, contact the Ministry of Health or your community health facility.