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Rise in viral gastroenteritis in Central Coast childcare centres

Central Coast Local Health District (CCLHD) is urging parents and carers to keep young children at home if they are sick amid a rise in viral gastroenteritis cases in local childcare centres.

“There has been a significant increase in gastroenteritis outbreaks in Central Coast childcare centres – with ten reported to our Public Health Unit in the past three weeks,” Dr Kathryn Taylor, Director, Public Health, CCLHD said.

Symptoms of viral gastroenteritis include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, abdominal pain, headache and muscle aches. They can take up to three days to develop and usually last between one or two days, sometimes longer.

“Viral gastroenteritis is highly infectious, so it is important for everyone to know the signs and to stay home if they experience any symptoms, especially as we head into the festive season and more people gather to celebrate with family and friends,” Dr Taylor said.

“Infants or children in childcare or school who develop vomiting or diarrhoea should stay at home for at least 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped, as should staff members and anyone whose work involves handling food or looking after children, the elderly or patients.”

The main treatment for viral gastroenteritis is to rest and drink plenty of fluids. Most people recover without complications, but gastroenteritis can be serious for infants, people with suppressed immune systems and the elderly.

Anyone recovering from gastroenteritis should avoid visiting hospitals, aged care facilities and childcare centres to avoid spreading the infection to those most vulnerable. Any person living in a household affected by gastroenteritis should refrain from visiting or working in these high-risk areas until at least 48 hours after the last person in the household has recovered.

CCLHD is reminding local childcare centres to reinforce basic hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing (paying particular attention to hand washing after attending to nappy changes), cleaning all hard surfaces and providing education to help prevent the spread of infections. Staff should also wear gloves and a mask when cleaning up bodily fluids, including vomit, when symptoms commence at the centre. Disinfect surfaces with a freshly made bleach solution.

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