Public Health offers ways to avoid getting viral gastroenteritis

It can knock people flat – so Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health officials tell people to stay home two days if they get sick.
There are numerous signs of viral gastroenteritis. Symp­toms often begin suddenly and may include watery diarrhea, vomit­ing, cramps, headache, fever, chills, and sore throat.
Public Health officials recommend that anyone who is experiencing those symptoms – especially vomiting or diarrhea – to stay at home until they are symptom-free for at least 48 hours. That will help to stop the spread of the illness.
The illness is a “typical profile for winter,” said Cameron Clark, program man­ager, health protection at WDG Public Health.
He said across Wellington, Dufferin, and Guelph, there have been outbreaks in two hospitals, two day care centres, and a seniors’ home. He said Public health officials can take clues from outbreaks in contained institutions such as seniors’ homes that “something is up in the community.”
He added, “Viral gastro­enteritis spreads very easily from person to person. Out­breaks are especially common in our schools, nursing homes and hospitals.”
Clark offered several ways to help prevent spreading viral infections:
– wash hands with soap and water, after coughing, sneez­ing, wiping a nose, visit­ing the washroom, and before eating and preparing food;
– cover the mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing;
– do not share food, drink, or eating utensils with others;
– anyone ill with diarrhea should not prepare food for other people. In particular, people with diarrhea should not work in restaurants, daycare centres, or medical settings;
– thoroughly clean and dis­infect contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of diarrhea or vomiting. Use a bleach-based household clean­er. Allow the solution to stand for one full minute before wiping;
– immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated; and
– flush or discard any vomit and-or stool in the toilet and make sure that the surrounding area is kept clean.
“We try to get the word out there is terms of control measures,” he said of the warning Public Health has issued.
For most healthy indi­vi­duals, drinking plenty of fluids and resting at home is sufficient to recover from a viral infec­tion and there is no need for hospital treatment.
Clark noted that for many suffering from the infection, dehydration becomes an issue. “Usually, you’re down and out for two whole days.”
However, he said the eld­erly or very young can some­times experience exag­ger­at­ed symptoms. If concerned about someone’s medical condition, talk to a doctor.
And, he added, those who think they should tough it out at school or work, he suggests they “Stay home.”
For more information about viral gastroenteritis, visit