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Gastro outbreak in Region Nine; medical team dispatched

Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence has reported that a medical team has been dispatched to Aishalton, Shea Village and Areunaw in Region Nine as there have been reports of an outbreak of gastroenteritis.

The team -which includes the Acting Regional Health Officer, (RHO) Dr. Roland Cho Yoe, an infectious disease nurse, an environmental assistant and two pharmacy assistants- travelled to the three villages and held meetings with the Toshaos and residents on how to resolve the issue and prevent further contamination.

Minister Lawrence said that there were 58 cases of the infection in the three villages of  patients who are predominately school children.

Samples from the residents were taken and sent to Lethem for testing. The Ministry is awaiting the results to decide on the way forward.

The new Public Health Minister noted that the team also conducted house to house visits and there were no reports of any fatality. “The infectious disease staff was sent in to look at all the elements to ascertain which element was the cause. We looked at the animals, drinking water and mining,” Lawrence told the Government Information Agency (GINA).

The team discovered that most residents were not sterilising their drinking water.

According to Lawrence, the villages had medication on hand to deal with the outbreak of Gastroenteritis. “On Christmas Eve, former Minister of Health, Dr. George Norton visited the villages and took medication including those for Gastroenteritis,” Lawrence explained.

On January 06, 2017 Dr. Cho Yoe reported that he received messages from the Community Health Workers (CHWs) that in Aishalton, Shea Village and Areunaw there were a number of persons who had shown signs of Gastroenteritis.

Currently the Ministry is collaborating with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ministries of Natural Resources, Agriculture, Communities and Indigenous People’s Affairs to address the issue.

The illness is very ‘flu like’ with similar symptoms. The main symptoms are diarrhoea and vomiting. Some individuals may also experience stomach pain, cramping, fever, nausea, and headache. Dehydration can occur due to the diarrhoea and vomiting.

Signs of dehydration include dry skin and a dry mouth, feeling lightheaded, and becoming very thirsty.

Gastroenteritis can be spread through a variety of ways, the most common being through contact with someone who has the virus, through contaminated food or water and through unwashed hands after using the washroom or changing a diaper.

To prevent the spread of infection individuals should wash their hands thoroughly after going to the toilet and before eating or preparing food, clean the toilet, including the seat and handle, with disinfectant (for persons with the illness clean the toilet after each episode of vomiting or diarrhoea), do not share towels, flannels, cutlery and utensils with other household members.