Saint Lucia records increase in gastroenteritis cases

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Saint Lucia records increase in gastroenteritis cases

(PRESS RELEASE) — The Department of Health and Wellness has recorded an increase in the number of cases of gastroenteritis reported over the last 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.

Persons presenting with gastroenteritis may experience diarrhea and/or vomiting which may be accompanied by stomach pain and fever. In most cases, gastroenteritis presents as 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.

The spread of gastroenteritis can be minimized by taking the following steps:

– Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, especially after vomiting or after a bowel movement and before meals.

– Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before consumption

– Surfaces and objects should be disinfected frequently to eliminate the virus/bacteria (using bleach; 1tsp bleach to two cups of water).- Avoid going to work/school if you are vomiting or have diarrhea, and remain away until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have passed.

– Avoid sharing cutlery or utensils.

The Department of Health and Wellness continues to put measures in place to monitor and address the increasing cases of gastroenteritis. Transmission can be minimized if persons practice good hand hygiene and follow the steps highlighted above.

Please seek medical attention at your nearest Wellness Centre if your condition does not improve or if there are signs of dehydration.

For more information, please feel free to contact the Bureau of Health Education or the Epidemiology Unit at 468-5349 or 468-5325, respectively.

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