By Capt. Catherine Jennings, Schweinfurt Health ClinicDecember 26, 2013
SCHWEINFURT, Germany (Dec. 26, 2013) -- Within the Schweinfurt garrison we have seen a rise in gastrointestinal illnesses. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach aches, fever and headache. Gastrointestinal illness can be spread through food, water, person-to-person contact and contact with infected animals.
Dehydration is the main complication and most people recover completely. It is serious for persons who are unable to drink enough fluids to replace what they lose through vomiting or diarrhea, such as infants and young children as they are at risk for dehydration from loss of fluids.
The most important treatment is to replace fluids to prevent dehydration. This is especially true in infants, who can lose body fluids very rapidly.
• Broth, diluted sports drink (such as Gatorade) or a rehydration solution can help replace lost electrolytes. Oral rehydration solution such as Pedialyte for children is available at Schweinfurt pharmacies without a prescription. Follow the written directions on the package, and use clean, boiled or bottle water. Medications and other treatments should be recommended by a physician. For those who are vomiting small frequent sips of the fluids maybe tolerated.
• Call our office immediately if your child/ baby has had diarrhea for more than three days and is showing signs of dehydration, such as little or no urination; in babies, no wet diaper for 6 to 8 hours, no tears when crying or sunken eyes or soft spot (fontanelle), or diarrhea with visible blood
PREVENTION AND CONTROL
You can reduce the chance of getting infected by frequent hand washing, prompt disinfection of contaminated surfaces and prompt washing of soiled articles of clothing. Food or water that is believed to be contaminated should be avoided. Rotavirus gastroenteritis can also be prevented by vaccines.
• Hand Hygiene: Appropriate hand hygiene is likely the single most important method to prevent infection and control its spread. Reducing germs present by thorough hand washing with running water and soap and rubbing hands together. Additionally no bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods (foods edible without washing, cooking, or additional preparation to achieve food safety) is recommended.
• Exclusion and Isolation: Minimize contact with persons during the most infectious periods of their illness (usually 24 -- 72 hours). Ill staff members in health-care facilities and food handlers should be excluded during their illness.
• Environmental Disinfection: Disinfecting contaminated surfaces such as bathrooms, door knobs and hand rails is one of the key methods of stopping the spread of germs. Household chlorine bleach-based cleaners recommended for disinfecting potentially contaminated surfaces. Initial cleaning of contaminated surfaces is needed to remove material such as fecal material before disinfecting with bleach.
Additional reliable sources on the topic are available at www.cdc.gov and www.webmd.com.