Last week saw dozens of outbreaks of highly contagious gastroenteritis throughout Queensland’s southeast.

Earlier this month, 19 childcare centres and 10 aged-care homes reported gastro outbreaks, with two wards at Redcliffe Hospital being placed in quarantine as doctors cared for dozens of patients with norovirus.

Our after-hours doctors have also seen a recent rise in the number of gastro-related calls and responded to more than 30 cases of gastro in just 3 days.

What is gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis, more commonly known as gastro, is an intestinal infection which causes vomiting, fever, diarrhoea and nausea. There are many things that cause gastro, including:

  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Parasites
  • Chemicals
  • Medication.

What is norovirus?

Norovirus is a highly contagious infection which is a leading cause of gastro. Outbreaks are known to occur in residential care facilities, hospitals, schools and childcare centres.

How is it spread?

People can become infected with norovirus by:

  • Eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated liquids
  • Touching contaminated surfaces or objects then placing the hand in the mouth
  • Airborne particles from projectile vomiting
  • Having direct contact with an infected person.

How can I protect myself?

Norovirus is extremely contagious and easily spread. Whilst there is no specific treatment and most people recover without complications, measures can be taken to prevent infection:

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after changing nappies, eating and preparing food and going to the toilet
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating them
  • Use detergent and warm water to clean vomit areas
  • Immediately wash any clothing or linens that may be contaminated with a virus, using a washing machine’s hot cycle.

House Call Doctor recommends anyone experiencing symptoms should keep hydrated by ingesting small amounts of fluid regularly.