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SA faces dire new outbreak as children warned to stay home

Families whose children are enrolled at childcare have been warned to keep their children at home if they’re sick after increased reports of gastro across South Australia. There were at least 17 outbreaks of viral gastroenteritis in childcare settings during December 2020, compared to four in the previous month. The health department also urged parents…

Families whose children are enrolled at childcare have been warned to keep their children at home if they’re sick after increased reports of gastro across South Australia.

There were at least 17 outbreaks of viral gastroenteritis in childcare settings during December 2020, compared to four in the previous month.

The health department also urged parents to ensure good hand-hygiene was practised.

Communicable Disease Control Branch Acting Director Dr Doug Shaw said a similar increase in reports were seen in other jurisdictions.

“As gastroenteritis is not a notifiable disease in South Australia, it is likely that the number of outbreaks in the community is much higher,” he said.

“While most of these outbreaks have not been clinically tested, the reports of short-lived vomiting and diarrhoea among children in the cases we’ve been made aware of are consistent with norovirus infection, one of the more common causes of gastroenteritis.”

It’s been advised by Dr Shaw that children should not return to childcare until they are feeling better and have not had any diarrhoea or vomiting for at least 48 hours.

While gastro is a common illness, he said it could be serious for young children, the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions.

Symptoms — which include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, abdominal pain, headache and muscle ache — can take up to three days to develop and usual last between one to two days.

“It spreads easily from person-to-person via hands, objects, surfaces or food that has been contaminated by faeces or vomit,” Dr Shaw said.

You can find more information on viral gastroenteritis at www.sahealth.sa.gov.au.

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