Govt Raises Gastroenteritis Alert Level To ‘High’

July 15, 2016

Further to information released on Friday, July 8, the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit [ESU] of the Ministry of Health and Seniors is informing the public of a “significant increase” in diarrhoea and vomiting illness [gastroenteritis] in the community and said it has “prompted the Ministry to issue a high alert.”

A Government spokesperson said, “The number of cases is unusually high compared to the five-year average of gastroenteritis cases at this time of year, which has prompted the Ministry to issue a high alert.

“The Ministry can confirm that there is no single common cause in the lab-verified cases that have been reported.

“If you become ill, you should contact your healthcare provider if you are concerned about your symptoms. Your doctor may wish to test for the cause. Seek prompt medical attention if you or a person in your care is severely ill, due to the risk of dehydration. This is especially important for young children and seniors.

“You can help to prevent the spread of infection by staying home until you are well:

  • Those who have symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea should not go to work and should not handle or prepare food for others while ill.
  • Professional food handlers and caregivers should consult a physician or the Department of Health before returning to work.
  • Children with diarrhoea and/or vomiting should not attend a summer camp or day care centre until 48 hours from the last episode of diarrhoea.
  • Children in diapers with diarrhoea should not use wading/swimming pools.

“While you are ill or caring for someone who is ill:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, especially after using the toilet, and before eating. Hand sanitizer may be used if the hands are not visibly dirty.
  • Flush or discard any vomit and/or stool in the toilet and making sure that the surrounding area is kept clean.
  • Disinfect contaminated surfaces, e.g.: kitchen counters, bathroom surfaces.

“As a general precaution:

  • Cook and store food appropriately. Keep hot food hot [at 140 degrees F or above], and cold food refrigerated [at 40 degrees F or below.]
  • Use bottled water when travelling in countries where the water supply might be unsafe. In Bermuda, the Department of Health recommends that tank water be disinfected before it is used for drinking or food preparation – common methods include boiling, ultraviolet light, and chlorination.

“The Department of Health advises that thorough hand washing remains an important method to reduce the chance of transmitting illness to others.

“For more information see the fact sheet at the bottom of the page here.”

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