Gastroenteritis (Gastro)

The Ministry of Health has reported an increase in the number of cases of gastroenteritis and is cautioning the public to exercise greater care when consuming foods.



Gastroenteritis is inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (the pathway responsible for digestion that includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines).  It may be caused by viral, bacterial or parasitic organisms that enter the body. 



Gastroenteritis can be spread if persons fail to wash hands frequently and properly, use contaminated food or water, have contact with an infected person, or by using dirty utensils.



Symptoms of Gastro:

Children are very likely to contact gastro because of the lack of proper hand washing practices.  Gastro symptoms can be confused with that of Dengue fever or the flu, but parents should take no chance and have the child seen by a doctor if you think that your child might have gastro.



Symptoms of gastroenteritis include:

 

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Diarrhoea

  • Stomach pain

  • Low fever

  • Headache, muscle aches, chills

  • Tiredness

If your child has gastro you should keep him or her away from other children



Preventing Gastro

Anyone can get “gastro”. Preschoolers and school age children get it most often because of close contact and lack of good hand washing and hygiene.



Hand washing is the most important way to prevent infection.  Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, rubbing vigorously and for at least 20 seconds:



  • After using the toilet

  • After having diarrhoea or vomiting

  • After changing diapers

  • After touching any stool soiled or vomit-soiled materials, toilets, or surfaces

  • Before handling food or drink

  • After cleaning up vomit or diarrhoea from someone who is ill with gastroenteritis

  • Before eating

Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of illness by using a bleach-based household cleaner.  Help young children to wash their hands.



See your doctor if you have severe gastroenteritis



Children in child care or school who have gastroenteritis should not attend child care or school until at least 48 hours after their symptoms have cleared.