A warning has been issued by WA Country Health Service – South West following an outbreak of gastroenteritis in South West hospitals, childcare centres and the general community.
About 100 people have been affected by five outbreaks in different facilities in the past three weeks.
WACHS-SW Public Health Physician Dr Naru Pal said that most of the outbreaks were caused by norovirus and one by salmonella.
“The infection, more commonly known as gastro, is an infection or inflammation of the digestive system and can be caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites and the toxins they produce,” Dr Pal said.
“Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pains, fever, tiredness and body aches.”
Dr Pal said the illness can be contracted by drinking and eating contaminated food, touching contaminated surfaces, coming into contact with microscopic amounts of faeces or vomit from an ill person or by handling pets and animals.
“The best way to prevent gastroenteritis is to wash your hands for at least 10 to 15 seconds thoroughly with soap and under running water before handling and eating food, especially after changing nappies and going to the toilet.
“People who get gastroenteritis should drink plenty of fluids such as plain water or oral rehydration drinks to avoid dehydration.
“Anti-vomiting or anti diarrhoeal medications should be avoided unless they are recommended or prescribed by a doctor.”
Dr Pal said that if people get gastroenteritis they are advised to stay home from work and they should keep sick children home until symptoms are gone for 48 hours.
“Do not visit aged care facilities if you or your children have gastroenteritis and if you experience severe or prolonged symptoms visit a doctor,” he said.
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