Public warned about gastroenteritis

The Far West Local Health District Communicable Diseases team is warning of an increase in gastroenteritis currently circulating in the Broken Hill community.

There has been an increase in people attending the Broken Hill Emergency Department with gastro symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhoea. The cases include all age groups from young children to the elderly. The Communicable Diseases team has been monitoring the numbers of cases closely to help guide the management of the illness.

Viral gastroenteritis is highly infectious and is often spread via direct contact with an infected person. Outbreaks are most often caused by a virus, mostly norovirus, and are very easily spread from person-to-person.

Symptoms of gastro can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, abdominal pain, headache, and muscle aches. These symptoms can take between one and three days to develop and usually last between one and two days, sometimes longer.

The best way to reduce your chances of getting viral gastroenteritis is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water for at least 10 seconds before handling and eating food, and always wash your hands after using the toilet.

It is very important that if you or your family are unwell with gastroenteritis that you stay home from work or keep a child home from school or child care if they are sick. It is important to remain at home for at least 48 hours after symptoms have stopped. People should also avoid visiting hospitals or aged care facilities to prevent spreading the disease to vulnerable people.

Dehydration often follows bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea so people with the virus should rest well and increase the amounts of fluids they drink. If people are concerned they should see their local GP.

For more information visit the NSW Health website for a fact sheet

at http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Factsheets/gastroenteritis.pdf

or contact your nearest Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055

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