Minister within the Ministry of Public Health Dr. Karen Cummings, has said that that to date the number of cases of gastroenteritis in Baramita, Region One, has risen to 80. Thus far an eleven-month old child has died from the illness.
The Ministry is closely monitoring the indigenous community, where cases of vomiting, diarrhoea and bloody diarrhoea were detected last December.
According to Dr. Cummings, the report of gastro cases was first given on December 3, but after closely monitoring the situation, there was a small break period; which was followed by the reports of several other cases in early January.
She added that there is a technical team on the ground, assessing the situation and working to keep it under control. This team comprises one doctor, one Medex and one Environmental Health Officer. The Environmental Health Officer is also monitoring the water to ensure it is not contaminated.
The Public Health Ministry is urging citizens to take the necessary precautions.
The illness is very ‘flu like’ with similar symptoms. The main symptoms are diarrhoea and vomiting. Some individuals may also experience stomach pain, cramping, fever, nausea, and headache. Dehydration can occur due to the diarrhoea and vomiting.
Gastroenteritis can be spread through a variety of ways; however, the most common ways are through contact with someone who has the virus, through contaminated food or water and through unwashed hands after using the washroom or changing a diaper.
To prevent the spread of infection, individuals should wash their hands thoroughly after going to the toilet and before eating or preparing food, clean the toilet, including the seat and handle, with disinfectant (for persons with the illness clean the toilet after each episode of vomiting or diarrhoea), do not share towels, flannels, cutlery and utensils with other household members.
In 2013, there was an outbreak of the illness in the North West District, where a total of 529 residents from Port Kaituma and surrounding communities were infected, primarily children. There were three reported deaths.
The occurrence of gastroenteritis is seasonal, with the highest incidence occurring in December, January, February and March.