The Ministry of Health of St Kitts and Nevis during the past week, has made a statement mentioning about the growing cases of gastroenteritis (GE) across the Federation. In the statement, the Health Ministry has stated that over the past weeks, number of children and adults have been diagnosed with and treated for gastroenteritis in St Kitts.
It is to be noted that, Gastroenteritis is a medical condition marked by irritation or inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, in particular the stomach and small intestines. This condition can affect anyone – be it a child or an adult. Gastroenteritis is typically caused by a germ or pathogen. The most common cause is a virus, but it can also be triggered by bacteria.
Moreover, the signs and symptoms of gastroenteritis include sudden onset of diarrhoea with three or more loose or watery stools in a day. These symptoms can occur with or without abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea and fever. Dehydration can result if there is continued loss of body fluids/water through vomiting and diarrhoea leading to excess fluid loss compared to intake (drinking). Dehydration is marked by increased thirst, dry mouth, weakness, sluggishness, dizziness, inability to sweat, decreased urine output and sometimes fainting.
The Ministry of Health of St Kitts and Nevis has also shared the symptoms for making people aware about it:
If child is older than 2 years and has one of the following symptoms:
– Persistent or worsening abdominal pain
– Fever lasting for more than 48 hours
– Frequent vomiting for 4 to 6 hours despite administering small amounts of fluids. o Frequent and abundant diarrhea lasting for more than 7 days
– Frequent diarrhea if the child is under 6 months
– Worsening of child’s general health
They have further advised to take the child straight to the emergency if they have one of the following symptoms:
– Has refused to drink for more than 4 to 6 hours
– Moderate to severe signs of dehydration
– Signs of mental confusion, dizziness, or headache
– Blood in the vomit or stool
– Black stools
– Vomit is bright green
This shows that child has a chronic disease, a weakened immune system or an immunodeficiency disorder and has a temperature higher than 38.5 °C (101.3 °F).
Whereas in case of adults, they have stated that adults should go straight to the emergency room if one of the following situations applies:
• A lot of blood in your stool, or your stool is black
• Diarrhea with intense abdominal pain
• Diarrhea with extreme thirst and no urination in over 12 hours
• Frequent vomiting which does not slow down after 4 to 6 hours
• Stool or blood (red in colour or resembling coffee grounds) in vomit
• Deterioration of general health (weakness, drowsiness, irritability, confusion)
At the same time, while noting to the prevention of gastroenteritis, the Ministry of Health has released several steps that will eventually reduce the chances of contracting gastroenteritis. One must:
– Avoid contaminated water and ice cubes; there is no harm in boiling tap water before use (make sure it is cooled prior to drinking).
– Wash fruits & vegetables thoroughly.
– Not eat raw or undercooked foods (meats).
– Avoid contaminated food (especially when travelling abroad).
– Wash your hands often with soap and water (use alcohol-based hand sanitizer until you can access soap & water).
The following steps will help to prevent the spread of gastroenteritis to others. one must:
– Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom or changing a child’s diaper.
– Wash your hands before, during and after preparing food. Wash your hands before eating.
– Ensure that towels are not shared; likewise, kitchen utensils, cups, glasses and plates should not be shared if someone in the household is affected by gastroenteritis.
– Keep your child at home if she/he has gastroenteritis, in order to prevent its spread in schools.
– Remain at home if you are an adult with gastroenteritis, in order to prevent its spread at the workplace.