Health

Gastro update: More than 50 childcare centres have been hit with gastro in Brisbane

More than 50 childcare centres have been hit with the gastro bug in Queensland, with almost 200 children believed to have been affected since June.

A spokesman for Queensland Health has acknowledged that the outbreaks were “significantly” higher this year than normal.

“The data indicates a significantly high number of outbreaks during this eight week period in 2017, however, it should be noted that half of these outbreaks involved fewer than 10 unwell children,” says the Queensland Health spokesman.

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In recent weeks, we have reported about the gastro virus sweeping across the nation. It has now claimed the lives of seven elderly patients at an aged care facility in Yeronga, near Brisbane.

In addition to the Queensland deaths, 20 aged care and child care facilities in Melbourne have been hit with a highly contagious stomach flu.

What’s more, NSW Health has revealed there had been a 34 per cent increase in viral gastroenteritis notifications across the state over the previous year.

Facilities are being urged to follow the department guidelines and infection control process to prevent the spread of the disease.

What is gastro?

Gastroenteritis or ‘gastro’ is a common illness affecting the gastrointestinal system, which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps and fever.

Gastroenteritis usually only lasts 24-72 hours depending on the cause, but can take a big toll on your body, especially if you get dehydrated.

A common side effect of gastro is dehydration. If you suspect your child has gastro or is dehydrated, we advise you see your GP as soon as possible.

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There is no vaccine to prevent gastro, so the best ways to avoid catching it is: 

  • Good hand hygiene.
  • Use paper towel instead of cloth towels.
  • Do not handle raw and cooked foods with the same implements (tongs, knives, cutting boards), unless they have been thoroughly washed between uses. Keep all kitchen surfaces and equipment clean.
  • Keep cold food cold (below 5 °C) and hot food hot (above 60 °C) to discourage the growth of bacteria.
  • Make sure foods are thoroughly cooked.
  • Clean the toilet and bathroom regularly, especially the toilet seat, door handles and taps.
  • When travelling overseas to countries where sanitation is suspect, only drink bottled water. Avoid food buffets, uncooked foods or peeled fruits and vegetables, and ice in drinks.

Tips to get through the poo-ey times 

The most important treatment of gastro is hydration. Frequent small sips of water or rehydration fluids can help keep your fluid levels up and avoid the dreaded dehydration. Even crunching on ice chips can ensure you are getting some fluid in.

If you can’t tolerate any water, a trip to hospital for IV fluids may be in order.

It’s also important to remember:

  • Rest as much as possible. Make a floor bed with everything you need, bucket, water, towels. This will give you time to recuperate.  
  • Sharing isn’t caring. Stop the spread! Wash hands carefully with soap and water after going to the toilet, changing nappies and before touching any food. Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces using a bleach-based household cleaner. Wash all contaminated laundry thoroughly. Stay away from work, school, childcare etc. until 24 hours after symptoms resolve. 
  • Try the BRAT diet once you have stopped vomiting and you’re able to keep down fluids. The BRAT diet is super bland and consists of Bananas, Rice, Apple sauce, and Toast. The BRAT diet won’t irritate your stomach, your stools will be firmer due to the binding nature of the foods and it can help replace nutrients your body needs such as potassium.

If you have any other questions and or concerns regarding breastfeeding and gastro – be sure to chat with your healthcare practitioner.

This above information was provided by Healthy Mummy midwife Bel Moore.

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