Gastro warning
Guyana Chronicle
January 26, 2007

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THE Health Ministry yesterday issued an advisory on Acute Diarrhoeal Diseases (ADD) and Vomiting (Gastroenteritis) following an increase in cases in several areas along the coast and especially in Canje in Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne).

The ministry said that in the cases, adult and children with a flu-like illness develop bouts of diarrhoea shortly after (three or more watery stools in 12 hours) and episodes of vomiting. Most cases were noted among children from 0 to 15 years and young adults up to 35 years, it said.

“Most acute diarrhoea diseases and vomiting are related to oral ingestion of contaminated food and water. When large groups of persons experience ADD at a point in time the infection is often traced to either community water or food supplies”, the ministry said.

It is advising the general public and especially residents of Region Six of the following:

1. Ensure that all drinking water is made safe before consumption. This can be done by adding quarter of a teaspoon full of household bleach (Marvex, Trin Cloro etc.) to one bucket (2½ gallons) of water, or ½ teaspoon of bleach to one five gallon water container or bottle, or one Chubby bottle of bleach to one 400 gallons plastic tank of water. Leave treated water for at least 30 minutes before drinking.

2. Ensure that all water used for brushing teeth, washing or rinsing mouth, or other hygienic purposes that may be swallowed be made safe as described above.

3. Water used for the preparation of foods and for washing fruits and vegetables intended for eating raw should be made safe as above.

4. Care to be taken when preparing food and cooking times and temperature should be observed. Food should be preferably consumed immediately after cooking and unused portions discarded.

5. If leftover foods are kept, ensure that foods are properly stored in refrigerator/freezer and properly heated (to boiling temperature) prior to eating.

6. Wash hands before eating or preparing food or following the use of toilet or after handling animals or cleaning babies or children.

7. Seek medical assistance immediately at the nearest health centre or hospital if you or your children have two or more watery stools in less than six hours or three watery stools in 24 hours.

8. Maintain hydration by drinking lots of fluids such as safe water, drink, coconut water or Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) if you experience watery stools. You can prepare ORS by adding to one litre of safe water (same as in one litre soft drink bottle), one tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of salt. This fluid should not be kept for more than 24 hours. Children under two can be given 50 ml (¼ cup) of fluid after every stool, while older children can be given ½ to one cup after each stool. Adults may take as much as they can tolerate.

Please contact the Ministry of Health on telephone 226-5164 or your nearest health facility for any further information you may need.