Warning over gastro outbreak in Longreach

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Health authorities are urging Central West residents to be mindful of the risk of gastrointestinal illnesses in the area.

The following statement may be attributed to Central Queensland Public Health Unit Director Dr Gulam Khandaker

Health staff are helping manage an outbreak of gastroenteritis in a childcare centre in Longreach.

The first onset of symptoms was on 8 June and 11 cases have been identified so far. Gastroenteritis in early childhood settings is generally caused by a virus.

We are still testing to identify the particular virus responsible for the outbreak.

Viral gastroenteritis is highly infectious and can be passed from person to person very easily.

As early childhood settings are prone to rapid spread of gastroenteritis, now is the time for centres to review infection control practices and promote prevention messages.

Children, staff and family members with vomiting or diarrhoea need to stay home (and away from others where possible) for at least 48 hours after symptoms have resolved.

The organisms that cause gastro may also be found in contaminated water or food, so careful handling of food and water as well as good hygiene practices are vital.

People with diarrhoea or vomiting should not prepare food for others.

Regular hand-washing and good hygiene practices in particular can help stop the spread of the illness.

Hands should be washed with soap and water for at least 30 seconds and dried thoroughly on a disposable or clean towel before handling food and after going to the toilet.

Diluting 5 ml of bleach in a 10-litre bucket of soapy water and using this to clean the house also can help stop belly run.

Drinking plenty of fluids is important to keep someone with gastroenteritis hydrated.

Although most people recover well from gastrointestinal illness in a few days, medical advice should be sought if:

  • symptoms are very severe or persist
  • there is blood in the diarrhoea
  • the ill person is an infant, an older person or has other conditions (as loss of fluids can have more severe impacts in these groups).

Anyone with concerns should talk to their GP.

But if you or your child are experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis, please phone ahead to advise your GP practice before arriving for your appointment.

Free advice from a qualified health professional also is available by calling 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).

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