The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs in its usual monitoring of disease trends has noted an increase in the number of gastroenteritis cases.
A 6% increase in cases has been recorded over the past week as compared to the previous week.
The majority of people affected are within the adult population and have been presenting mainly to the emergency departments of both the OKEU and St. Jude Hospital seeking medical attention.
Acute gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and the intestines and can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, chemicals or medications.
Symptoms of gastroenteritis include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, fever, headache or muscle aches. Investigations into the affected individuals revealed a sudden onset of symptoms lasting between 5 to 7 days.
Most cases have resolved with symptomatic treatment however, hospitalizations have been recorded particularly in young children who are more prone to dehydration and complications.
Both viruses and bacteria have been isolated as causative agents in stool samples collected to date. Gastroenteritis is spread by:
- Direct contact with an infected person;
- Consuming contaminated food, water, or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces then putting unwashed hands into the mouth; and
- Vomitus particles in the air.
During this carnival season, where there is much food preparation and consumption, the public is reminded to remain cognizant of the measures to prevent the acquisition and the spread of gastroenteritis:
- Practice good hand hygiene. Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water,
especially after vomiting, using the toilet and before handling food;
- Don’t eat undercooked foods;
- Disinfect contaminated surfaces and objects frequently to eliminate the virus or bacteria.
- If you are sick, avoid going to work or school until 24 hours after your symptoms have passed.
Food handlers please ensure that the food prepared is safe and suitable for public consumption.
Do not prepare meals if you are sick. Ensure that your public health certificate is current and valid. Revelers, be sure to purchase food from recognized food establishments with a valid public health license.
If you have symptoms of gastroenteritis, please seek medical care at your nearest Wellness Centre if your symptoms do not improve or if you have signs of dehydration. You may be asked to produce a stool sample.
Let us work collectively during these celebrations to prevent any further increases in gastroenteritis cases.
The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Elderly Affairs wishes Saint Lucians a safe and enjoyable VaVal 2023!
SOURCE: Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Elderly affairs