Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a parent more than the words ‘gastro outbreak.’
Well hold onto your vomit bags peeps because an outbreak is what appears to be taking over, at least in the northern states.
Poor old Brissie has been battered by the vomits in the past two months, with a 400 per cent increase in reported cases of the gastro bug. More than 50 daycare centres have already alerted QLD Health of an outbreak of gastroenteritis, with more than 200 children already affected.
The current guidelines define an outbreak as two or more cases of gastroenteritis within a three-day period. As it stands, 35 childcare centres in Brisbane’s northern suburbs alerted QLD Health and parents of confirmed cases of the bug between June 15 and August 14. During the same period in 2016, there were only nine reported cases, according to the Courier Mail.
Dr Kari Jarvinen, public health physician at Metro South Public Health Unit speaking to abc.net, says the gastro outbreak in Brisbane is primarily of norovirus.
“We are seeing a lot of norovirus, which is a particularly nasty type of viral gastroenteritis virus.”
Daycare centres aren’t the only ones hit, with hospitals, nursing homes and aged care facilities in the area also affected. The Regis Aged Care Facility has been in lockdown since the beginning of August while staff and management try and contain the spread of the virus.
Inter-state germ sharing
Queensland isn’t the only state to experience an increase in gastro cases. The bug hit childcare and aged care facilities in Melbourne at the beginning of August with 20 reported cases in a two week period.
NSW Health also reported that more than 1,900 people attended NSW emergency departments with symptoms of gastroenteritis during the first week in August. That’s a rather nasty 34 per cent increase in viral gastroenteritis cases on the usual number for this time of year.
How to prevent the spread?
How to prevent the spread of gastro? State health authorities recommend that children (and their parents!) stay home if they are unwell or showing any signs of the bug. Viral gastro spreads very easily from person to person and staying out of contact is one of the best ways to contain it.
Good hand hygiene is also important. Health authorities advise washing hands thoroughly using soap and running water for at least 10 seconds and drying with a clean towel. This is especially important after using the toilet, after contact with someone who has diarrhoea and/or vomiting and before preparing food.
Make sure children also get the hand washing message as they are often notorious slackers in the hygiene department!