Health authorities are urging Central West residents to be mindful of the risk of gastrointestinal illnesses in the area.
Central Queensland Public Health Unit Director Dr Gulam Khandaker said gastrointestinal illness was on the rise in many parts of Queensland, including the Central West.
“Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the stomach and intestines,’’ Dr Khandaker said.
“It may be caused by bacteria, such as with campylobacter, salmonella and shigella, or viruses in the cases of rotavirus or norovirus, or parasites as in cases of giardia and cryptosporidium.
“For instance, we are seeing an increasing number of cases of Cryptosporidiosis, commonly known as Crypto.
“This is a parasitic infection causing gastroenteritis with diarrhoea, stomach pain and vomiting. “Gastroenteritis of any kind is highly infectious and can be passed from person to person very
“The organisms that cause illness may also be found in contaminated water or food.
“Gastroenteritis usually spreads when hands, food, objects, and surfaces become contaminated with faeces or vomit and the infectious organism is transferred to the mouth when eating,
drinking, or touching the mouth.
“The spread of some viruses can also occur via small airborne particles circulating in the air during or after vomiting attacks.’’
Dr Khandaker said 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,’’ he said.
Hands should be washed with soap and water for at least 15 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.
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).
Drinking plenty of fluids is important to keep someone with gastroenteritis hydrated.
Anyone with concerns should talk to their GP or get free advice from a qualified health professional by calling 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).
Dr Khandaker said as early childhood settings were prone to rapid spread of gastroenteritis, now was the time for centres to review infection control practices and promote prevention
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.
Health advice is available at Cryptosporidiosis | Health and wellbeing | Queensland Government (www.qld.gov.au)