A sharp rise in viral gastroenteritis cases, particularly in very young children up to the age of four, has prompted the Far West Local Health District to urge people to take precautions to prevent a further spread.
“Gastroenteritis is highly infectious and may spread rapidly,” says FWLHD Director of Public Health, Priscilla Stanley.
“The best defence is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds before handling and eating food, and always wash your hands after using the toilet, changing nappies, or assisting someone who has diarrhoea or vomiting,” she added.
Symptoms of viral gastroenteritis, commonly known as gastro, include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, abdominal pain, headache, and muscle aches. Symptoms can take up to three days to develop and generally last for one or two days.
Most people make a full recovery, but gastro can potentially be very dangerous for infants, the immunocompromised and the elderly.
“Infants or children in childcare or school who develop vomiting or diarrhoea should stay at home for at least 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped, as should staff members and anyone whose work involves handling food or looking after children, the elderly or patients,” Ms Stanley said.
The FWLHD advises that anyone recovering from gastro should avoid hospitals and aged care facilities to prevent any further spread to the most susceptible. Anyone who has been living in a house affected by gastroenteritis should refrain from visiting these high-risk areas until at least 48 hours after the last person in the household has recovered.
Treatment for gastroenteritis includes rest and drinking plenty of fluids.
For more information head to www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/gastroenteritis/Pages/default.aspx