NSW Health has issued an urgent warning of a gastro outbreak sweeping across early childhood services across NSW. With almost 1000 children and 200 Educators have been struck down - a 97% increase since February.
Typically, gastro begins with vomiting. Children then develop frequent, watery poos. Often children may have tummy pain and fever with the diarrhoea. Some children may have a runny nose or a sore throat.
Good hand hygiene is the most effective way of preventing the spread of infection.
- Make sure that hand washing facilities and alcohol hand rub are available for staff, residents, children and visitors.
- Alert staff, residents, children and visitors to the outbreak and the need for thorough and frequent hand washing, and post hand washing signs in toilet and care areas.
- Staff and visitors should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and running water for 30 seconds and dry their hands with disposable paper towels, even if they have been wearing gloves:
- If hands are visibly dirty
- After using the toilet
- After changing nappies
- Before eating/preparing food
- There are body fluids (e.g. blood, urine, faeces) on your hands.
- Alcohol hand rub can be used to clean your hands for other situations.
The following precautions should be taken to restrict the spread of gastroenteritis:
- Children and/or staff with vomiting or diarrhoea should be separated from the rest of the group as soon as symptoms appear. This may involve dedicating a room to the sick children before they can be sent home.
- Sick children and staff should be excluded from attending the facility for at least 48 hours after their symptoms have ceased.
- Gastro usually lasts for three or four days. It may take a week or so for the poos to become normal.
- Gastro is often spread by direct contact with infected people and spreads easily if people haven't carefully washed their hands after using the toilet or before handling food.
- The best defence is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water for at least 10 seconds before handling and eating food.
Children, educators and other staff with infectious diarrhoea should be excluded until the diarrhoea has stopped for at least 48 hours.
For more information on Gastro, please read the following: Gastro In Children
A Major Gastro Outbreak In NSW Childcare Centres, 7 NEWS Sydney
Gastroenteritis, NSW Health