Stomach flu, also called gastroenteritis, is being reported across the Western Bay of Plenty, resulting in diarrhoea, cramps, nausea, vomiting and fever.
There are many causes of gastroenteritis including viruses, bacteria and parasites.
“Toi Te Ora Public Health is aware of reports of cases of gastroenteritis in the community,” says Toi Te Ora Public Health Medical Officer of Health Dr Jim Miller.
“However, most cases of vomiting and diarrhoea are viral and are not notifiable to the Medical Officer of Health, so Toi Te Ora has no firm data on these illnesses in the community.”
Jim says viral gastroenteritis is very infectious and that it is not uncommon to see higher rates during the winter months.
“The nature of social interaction during winter sees people spending more time in closer proximity indoors, which contributes to gastroenteritis spreading more easily in the colder months.”
To help prevent the spread of viruses including those that cause gastroenteritis, the public are encouraged to wash hands with soap and water regularly especially after using the toilet, and before preparing or eating food. Good rest and rehydration are the mainstays of treatment.
Depending on the cause, symptoms could start as early as an hour after being exposed to the bug. Symptoms can last from a few days up to one month.
“If you are unwell, make sure that you drink plenty of fluids, and stay home until at least 48 hours after the last symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting,” says Dr Miller.
“It is important to seek medical advice if symptoms are severe or persist, especially in the very young or elderly.”
Those with weakened immune systems can also be at greater risk of needing medical help if suffering from gastroenteritis.
Medical attention should be sought as soon as possible if the ill person:
- Is a baby less than 6 months old
- Is not drinking or has difficulty keeping fluids down
- Is not urinating (‘passing wee’) or passing less urine than usual
- Has dry lips and mouth and/or cold hands and feet
- Is unusually lethargic, drowsy or irritable
- Keeps vomiting or passing lots of diarrhoea
- Has blood or mucus in their faeces (poo)
- Has a high fever
- Has unexpected symptoms e.g. pain when passing urine, headache, ongoing stomach pains
- Has other health problems
- Does not appear to be getting better, that is, not improving after two days
For more information, visit: Gastroenteritis | Toi Te Ora Public Health