More Patients Being Seen In St. Lucia With Symptoms Of Gastroenteritis

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The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs, through its processes of disease surveillance, has noted an increase in the number of individuals presenting at healthcare facilities with symptoms of gastroenteritis.

In comparison to the previous week, a 14% increase in cases has been recorded. It has also been observed that children have been the most affected, as compared to adults in previous weeks. Most of the affected individuals experience sudden onset vomiting and diarrhea, which usually resolve with treatment of the symptoms.

Acute gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and the intestines and can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, chemicals or medications. Symptoms of gastroenteritis include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, fever, headache or muscle aches.

The very contagious Norovirus also referred to as the “stomach flu” most prevalent during the winter season has been circulating and has been the cause of many cases of gastroenteritis globally.

The public is reminded to remain mindful of the following measures to avoid contracting and spreading gastroenteritis:

• Practice good hand hygiene by washing hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, especially after vomiting, after a bowel movement and before handling food;

• Do not prepare meals for others if you are vomiting or have diarrhea;

• Do not eat undercooked foods;

• Disinfect contaminated surfaces and objects frequently to eliminate the virus/bacteria;

• If you are sick, avoid going to work/school until 24 hours after your symptoms have passed.

If you have symptoms of gastroenteritis, please seek medical care at your nearest Wellness Centre. You may be asked to produce a stool sample.

The Ministry also wishes to remind the public that we are currently in the flu season, and persons may experience respiratory symptoms. To date, both respiratory syncytial virus and influenza type A have been isolated.

The public is encouraged to help stop the spread of respiratory illnesses by:

• Maintaining proper hand hygiene;

• Washing hands thoroughly after coughing or sneezing;

• Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing;

• Wearing a mask where possible in crowded places;

• Disinfecting contaminated surfaces and objects frequently to eliminate the virus/bacteria;

• Not attending work or sending sick children to school or day care centres until symptoms have passed;

• Avoiding contact with people at higher risk of contracting severe illness such as infants, older people and those who are immunocompromised until your symptoms have passed;

• Consulting a healthcare professional if your flu like symptoms linger or worsens.

Let us work collectively during this festive season to prevent further increases in cases. Let us work to safeguard our health.

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Elderly affairs wishes all citizens a safe and enjoyable season and a productive 2024.

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