NSW Health is urging the community to wash their hands and stay home if affected by gastroenteritis, following an increase in emergency department presentations across the state
More than 1600 people attended NSW emergency departments with gastroenteritis in the past week, a 14% increase on the usual number for this time of year.
Of these, more than 400 were admitted to hospital, reports NSW Health. Nursing homes, hospitals and child care centres have been hit hardest.
NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, says that viral gastroenteritis is highly infectious and often spread via direct contact with an infected person.
“These outbreaks are mostly caused by infection with a virus and spread easily from person to person, particularly if hands are not carefully washed after using the toilet or attending to nappy changes,” Dr Chant said.
“Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, abdominal pain, headache and muscle aches. These symptoms can take between one and three days to develop and usually last between one and two days, sometimes longer.
“We urge infected people not to prepare food for others until at least 48 hours after they have completely recovered and then to double check their hygiene is perfect.
“Dehydration often follows bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea, particularly in young children, so people with the virus should rest well and increase the amount of fluids they drink,” Dr Chant says.