Increase in gastroenteritis outbreaks in childcare

Parents and carers are urged to keep young children at home if they are sick amid a rise in outbreaks of viral gastroenteritis in Victorian childcare centres.

Healthy City Portfolio Holder, Cr Adele Hegedich, said gastroenteritis is highly infectious and urged people to stay home if they had symptoms.

“Whilst viral gastroenteritis can cause symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fevers, muscle aches and headaches, it is also highly infectious, with the very young and elderly at most risk of complications,” Cr Hegedich said.

“We urge infants or children in childcare or school, as well as staff, who develop vomiting or diarrhoea to stay at home until at least 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped, since they will still be infectious.”

“Symptoms can take up to three days to develop and usually last between one or two days, sometimes longer.”

“Once notified of an outbreak at a childcare facility, Council Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) are required to conduct contact and history tracing of cases, attend the childcare to implement outbreak control measures and supervise environmental cleaning and disinfection of all equipment, utensils and facilities.”

“EHOs provide continual support and monitoring which is integral to ensuring that outbreaks are quickly contained and managed.”

“As we move toward the end of the pandemic, this is a timely reminder that basic health and hygiene practice education and messaging remains important for a range of public health scenarios.”

“Washing hands with soap and water is one of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of infection.”

“If symptoms are severe or they persist, or you are concerned, see a GP for advice and possible testing.”

Anyone recovering from gastroenteritis should avoid visiting hospitals, childcare centres and aged care facilities to avoid spreading the infection to those most vulnerable. Any person living in a household with someone who has gastroenteritis should refrain from visiting these high-risk facilities until at least 48 hours after the last person in the household has recovered.

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