Saint Lucia: The Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs Ministry has recorded increased cases of gastroenteritis over the last few weeks.
Acute gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines and may be caused by viruses, bacteria, and parasites, among others. Gastroenteritis is spread by direct contact with an infected person, by consuming contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces and then putting your unwashed hands in your mouth.
Persons presenting with gastroenteritis may experience vomiting, which may or may not be accompanied by diarrhoea, 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. Dehydration’s signs 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.
– Wash fruits and vegetables before consumption
– Surfaces and objects should be disinfected frequently to eliminate the virus/bacteria (using 1 tsp bleach to 2 cups of water).
– Avoid going to work/school if you are vomiting or have diarrhoea, and remain away until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have passed.
– Avoid sharing cutlery or utensils.
Transmission can be minimized if persons practice good hand hygiene and follow the steps highlighted above.
Persons are asked to please seek medical attention at their nearest Wellness Centre if the condition does not improve or if there are signs of dehydration. The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs thanks the public for its continued support and will continue to put measures in place to monitor and address the increasing cases of gastroenteritis.