Friday, 21 October 2022 13:44

At least one suspected death due to gastro reported - Health Ministry issues warning

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The Ministry of Health and Wellness is urging the public to take measures to prevent gastroenteritis (GE) and to seek care early to avoid serious complications after a suspected case of death was reported from the illness.

In a release on Friday, the Health Ministry said the matter is now under investigation.

GE causes irritation and inflammation of the stomach and intestines, resulting in diarrhoea (running belly) and/or vomiting. Both adults and children can contract GE through bacteria, viruses or parasites in contaminated or spoiled food, unclean water or dirty hands.

According to the Health Ministry, GE can cause death, especially in young children because of dehydration (loss of fluid).

The Ministry is urging caution as cases of GE are expected to increase in the cooler months of the year. Parents and caregivers are especially advised to pay attention to their children.

The Ministry advised that oral rehydration is the best course of treatment for GE and has advised against taking any medication to stop the diarrhoea or vomiting.

Oral Rehydration Fluid should be used to replace water and special substances lost as a result of diarrhea or vomiting,” the statement read.

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Karen Webster Kerr outlined that “other fluids such as coconut water, diluted fruit juice, and plain water” can also be given. She also indicated that babies that are being breastfed should continue breastfeeding.

Sweet drinks are prohibited.

If symptoms persist while undergoing the advised treatment course, persons are urged to visit their health care provider.

Data from the Ministry’s National Surveillance Unit indicates that although weekly 2022 figures have been higher than the previous year, the case figures for the intestinal infection are not unusual. The unit reports that for 2022, it recorded an average visitation of 107 children under five years old to facilities islandwide compared to 31 in 2021.

Parents and caregivers are especially advised to pay attention to their children.