Avoid the spread of viral gastroenteritis

South Australians are reminded of the importance of good hand hygiene following an increase of viral gastroenteritis in the community. 

The Department for Health and Wellbeing’s Director of Communicable Disease and Control Branch, Dr Louise Flood, said although most types of viral gastroenteritis are not notifiable, the Department is aware there is an increased circulation of viral gastroenteritis currently in the community.

“While viral gastroenteritis is a common illness, it can be quite serious for young children, the elderly or people with pre-existing medical conditions,” Dr Flood said.

“Gastro can lead to dehydration, which may already be exacerbated by the recent hot weather.

“It spreads easily from person-to-person via hands, objects, surfaces or food that has been contaminated by faeces or vomit.

“Prevention is always the best defence, which is why we are encouraging everyone to make sure they wash their hands thoroughly with soap and running water especially before eating or preparing food, after going to the toilet, changing nappies or having contact with someone who is unwell.”

Keeping surfaces clean by wiping them down regularly also helps to minimise the spread of gastro. 

Adults and children should stay home from work or childcare while unwell, and minimise contact with other people where possible.

“It’s especially important to avoid preparing food for others for at least 24 hours after vomiting and diarrhoea has stopped,” Dr Flood said.

“It’s also important to avoid swimming in pools for at least 24 hours after the symptoms have stopped.”

The signs and symptoms of viral gastro can include a fever, nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, and generalised weakness and usually lasts one or two days.

“Most people with gastro get better without needing medical help but it is important to stay hydrated, stay home and rest,” Dr Flood said.

“Seek medical attention if you are concerned or there are signs of dehydration, fever, severe abdominal pain or bloody diarrhoea.” 

More information on viral gastroenteritis can be found at www.sahealth.sa.gov.au