The Reliance GP Blog

Gastro Outbreak – how to eat and treat
Missy Tysoe May 16, 2017

Gastro Outbreak – how to eat and treat

Update August 4 2017: Over 1900 cases reported to emergency departments in NSW. Read more here.

A local nursing home has been in lockdown after an outbreak of gastroenteritis on the Central Coast. Doctors at Reliance have treated an increased number of patients over the last two weeks, and provide some quick facts below to help you stay safe from the virus, and how to treat the virus.

Gastro is a virus that causes vomiting and diahhrea, and may lead to severe dehydration. Gastroenteritis can be caused by a number of different germs including:

  • viruses (for example norovirus, rotavirus, hepatitis A)
  • bacteria (for example Salmonella, Campylobacter, Shigella)
  • parasites (for example Giardia, Cryptosporidium)
  • Toxins (produced by bacteria, found in food etc)

Gastro should only last a few days and is usually treated by rest and keeping up fluids. It doesn’t usually require medication.

Symptoms:

  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • diarrhoea, sometimes containing blood
  • stomach pain/cramps
  • fever
  • generally feeling unwell, including tiredness and body aches.

Treatment

  • Drink plenty of clear fluids, for example juice diluted 1 part to 4 parts water, to prevent dehydration. Avoid undiluted fruit juice and soft drinks as they may increase dehydration and diarrhoea. Rehydration drinks that replace fluids and salts are available from chemists. Intravenous fluids may be needed in severe cases of dehydration.
  • Drink plenty of fluids such as plain water or oral rehydration drinks (available from pharmacies) to avoid dehydration. Dehydration is especially dangerous for babies and the elderly.
  • Avoid anti-vomiting or anti-diarrhoeal medications unless these are prescribed or recommended by a doctor. Probiotics can aid recovery of the gut. 

If you experience severe or prolonged symptoms you should visit a doctor, call 43041333 to book an appointment. Or book online through appointuit app www.reliancehealth.com.au It is advised to see a doctor if you suspect your baby has been infected, as small children are more suspectiple to dehydration and other complicvations resulting from the illness.

 

Gastro Outbreak – how to eat and treat

BRAT Diet – treating a stomach bug

While you have the infection

When you catch a bug that causes acute infectious gastroenteritis (gastro), your stomach and intestinal tract become inflamed, causing diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping and pain. This commonly reduces appetite and sufferers will not feel like eating. It is important to keep fluids up and slowly try to eat small meals to regain your energy. Reliance doctors recommend the BRAT diet, which stands for “bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast”. Bland foods  are typically recommended to avoid irritating the stomach. The banana and rice portions of this diet are higher in fibre, leading to more solid stools and a decrease in the frequency of diarrhoea

EATING

  • Start on a BRAT diet – bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast” and after 24 hours move to resume eating a normal diet with a mix of fruits, vegetables, meat, yogurt, and complex carbohydrates.
  • Drink plenty of water or electrolyte drinks (sports drinks)
  • Raw foods such as meats, poultry and eggs can contain bacteria that cause gastroenteritis. Keep raw foods separate from cooked and ready-to-eat foods (for example salads) to prevent cross-contamination. Store raw meat below ready-to-eat food in the refrigerator and use separate chopping boards and knives for raw and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Cook foods thoroughly to a temperature of 75 °C or until meat juices run clear and are not pink.
  • Keep cold food below 5 °C and hot food above 60 °C.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol for several days, as these can worsen dehydration.
  • Avoid preparing or handling food for other people until symptoms have resolved. If you must prepare or handle food, thoroughly wash your hands beforehand to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others.

CLEANING

  • Wash and dry your hands thoroughly after going to the toilet.
  • Immediately remove and wash any clothes or bedding contaminated with vomit or diarrhoea using detergent and hot water.
  • After an episode of diarrhoea or vomiting, clean contaminated surfaces (for example benches, floors and toilets) immediately using detergent and hot water. Then disinfect surfaces using a bleach-based product diluted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Clean carpet or soft furnishings contaminated with diarrhoea or vomit immediately using detergent and hot water and then steam clean.
  • Wash and dry your hands thoroughly after changing nappies, going to the toilet, cleaning up vomit or diarrhoea, or handling animals, and before eating or drinking. If hand-washing facilities are not available use an alcohol-based gel.

CONTACT

  • Avoid contact with people who have gastroenteritis symptoms.
  • Do not go to work or school for at least 24 hours after symptoms have finished, or 48 hours if you work in or attend a high risk setting, such as health care, residential care or child care, or handle food as part of your job.

How gastroenteritis is spread?

You might get it from food, water or contact with an infected person (or contact with vomit/faeces). Infectious gastro can be easily spread.

Gastro is spread when germs come into contact with your mouth. This can be by:

  • drinking or eating something contaminated with germs or toxins
  • contact with an ill person, or microscopic amounts of faeces (poo) or vomit from an ill person. This may occur directly by close personal contact, or indirectly by touching contaminated surfaces such as taps, toilet flush buttons, toys or nappies. The germs then pass from your hands to your mouth
  • handling pets and other animals.

When people get gastroenteritis they often assume that the last meal they ate gave them food poisoning, but often it  symptoms usually begin 1 to 2 days after you have taken in the germ, depending on which type you have been infected with.

Gastroenteritis prevention

To reduce your risk of catching or spreading gastro, wash your hands well after using the bathroom or changing nappies, and before preparing or eating food.

If you have gastro, it’s best to stay home (away from work, school or childcare) until the symptoms have been gone for at least 24 hours.

See a doctor immediately if you experience;

  • gastro for more than 2-3 days,
  • dark urine, or trouble passing urine
  • light headedness,
  • or a temperature.

Call 43041333 to book an appointment. Or book online through appointuit app www.reliancehealth.com.au

Sources:

NSW Health http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/Viral-Gastroenteritis.aspx

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/gastroenteritis

https://www.2gofm.com.au/news/central-coast/umina-aged-care-facility-still-in-lockdown

 

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