NSW medical officials report countless gastroenteritis cases in past week

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NSW Health is renewing calls to individuals struggling with gastroenteritis to remain home and follow medical health advice following a spate of outbreaks in aged care facilities and childcare centres.

The organism's characteristic wheel-like appearance under the electron microscope gives the rotavirus its name from the Latin word 'rota,' meaning 'wheel.' Image/CDC/Jessica A. Allen/Alliza Eckerd.The organism’s characteristic wheel-like appearance underneath the electron microscope provides the rotavirus its name in the Latin word ‘rota,’ meaning ‘wheel.’
Image/CDC/Jessica A. Allen/Alliza Eckerd.

There have been 39 outbreaks of gastroenteritis in institutions from 20-26 August, including 10 in aged care facilities, 22 in day care centres, five in hospitals and 2 in schools, affecting a minimum of 348 people.

This really is 120 percent greater, greater than double, compared to previous 5 year weekly average quantity of outbreaks for August.  

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director Communicable Illnesses, NSW Health, stated the outbreaks have been brought on by viral gastroenteritis including rotavirus and norovirus which spread easily for every person.

“Gastroenteritis is extremely infectious so it’s vital that individuals infected stay at home from work and sick children home from soccer practice or childcare not less than 24 hrs following the last signs and symptoms have stopped,” Dr Sheppeard stated.

“If your projects involves handling food or searching after children, the seniors or patients, don’t go back to work until 48 hrs after signs and symptoms have stopped.

“The best defence against gastroenteritis would be to wash both hands completely with soapy flowing water not less than ten seconds before handling and consuming food, after while using toilet, altering nappies or assisting somebody who has diarrhoea or vomiting.”

Signs and symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, abdominal discomfort, headache and muscle aches. They are able to take between one and 72 hours to build up in most cases last between 1 and 2 days, sometimes longer.

All children should receive rotavirus vaccine at six days and 4 several weeks old. This vaccine is about 70 percent good at stopping rotavirus infection, and also over 85 percent good at stopping severe gastroenteritis in infants. It’s likely to give protection for approximately 5 years. Rotavirus vaccine is free of charge for those children and provided with routine vaccines underneath the National Immunisation Program.

Those who are sick with gastroenteritis are encouraged to:

  • Avoid visiting hospitals or aged care facilities to avoid distributing herpes
  • Wash their hands with soapy flowing water not less than ten seconds after while using toilet and before touching food
  • Stay at home, rest and drink lots of fluids to ease lack of fluids
  • Go to a GP if signs and symptoms are severe or persistent.

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