Health Ministry investigating increase in gastroenteritis locally
The British Virgin Islands is experiencing an increase in the level of gastroenteritis in the territory.
The Ministry of Health gave this pubic alert on Monday; explaining that gastro is an inflammation of the lining of the stomach and intestines. The condition is very contagious and can spread rapidly and easily from person to person.
“The Public Health Unit and the Environmental Health Division are currently investigating the cause in order to limit the spread,” the Health Ministry said.
As the ministry conducts its probe, persons who work in food handling, healthcare, or childcare are being advised not to attend work while they are ill and should not return to work until 72 hours after symptoms stop.
The ministry said persons infected with gastro are contagious from the moment they begin feeling ill to at least three days after recovery.
“The illness often begins suddenly, but is typically brief, with symptoms lasting one or two days. Most persons recover on their own. However, gastro can cause dehydration or depletion of fluid in the body. This is a serious complication and may be especially dangerous in young children, elderly and persons with an underlying health problem such as diabetes, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease and kidney disease,” it stated.
“If persons experience dehydration and symptoms last more than 72 hours or their symptoms worsen (e.g. blood in stool), this may be indicative of a more serious gastrointestinal infection and should contact their primary healthcare provider immediately,” the ministry added.
Gastroenteritis may be caused by viruses, bacteria or other microorganisms like parasites that can be transmitted through consumption of contaminated or undercooked food, drinking contaminated water, lack of hand hygiene or dirty hands, and airborne particles.
Persons who contract gastro can treat symptoms by drinking plenty of fluids, including water and use oral rehydration salts to prevent dehydration, the ministry said.