The Ministry of Health said that it has recorded an increase in the number of gastroenteritis cases in St. Vincent and the Grenadines over the past few weeks.
Acute gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and the intestines and may be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites among others. Gastroenteritis is spread by direct contact with an infected person, by consuming contaminated food or water or by touching contaminated surfaces then putting your unwashed hands in your mouth.
Symptoms of gastroenteritis include vomiting, which may or may not be accompanied by diarrhoea, stomach pain and fever.
In most cases, gastroenteritis is a self-limiting illness. However, children and the elderly are most susceptible to complications such as dehydration and should, therefore, be monitored closely. Signs of dehydration include decreased urination, dry mouth, crying with few or no tears or feeling drowsy or sleepy.
To prevent the spread of gastroenteritis, persons are advised to:
- Practise good hand hygiene by washing hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, especially after vomiting or after a bowel movement and before meals.
- Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consumption
- Sanitise surfaces and objects frequently to eliminate the virus/bacteria. It is recommended that when sanitising, you use 1teaspoon bleach to 2 cups of water.
- Avoid going to work/school until the symptoms have passed if you are vomiting or have diarrhoea.
- Avoid sharing cutlery or utensils.
Persons are asked to seek medical attention at their nearest health centre if their condition does not improve or if there are signs of dehydration.
For more information, please contact the Office of the Chief Medical Officer or the Epidemiology Unit at 457-2586.