Gastro outbreak in Drouin ECEC services prompts warning from Council
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals and families in the West Gippsland Victorian town of Drouin have been asked to remain on high alert for symptoms of gastroenteritis (gastro) as the Baw Baw Shire Council manages outbreaks at three Drouin Childcare Centres.
The three services reported outbreaks of the highly contagious virus to the Department of Health and Human Services last month, weeks after Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer warned that outbreaks were on the rise across the state as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, abdominal pain, headache and muscle aches. They can take up to three days to develop and usually last between one or two days, sometimes longer.
Gastro is highly infectious and is caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites. Viruses are often spread from person-to-person, and to objects and food, via unwashed hands.
To prevent the spread of gastroenteritis viruses, Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services says the best defence is to wash hands thoroughly with soap and running water for at least 10 seconds before and after handling and eating food, after using the toilet, changing nappies, or assisting someone who has vomiting or diarrhoea.
Infants or children in childcare or school who develop vomiting or diarrhoea should stay at home for at least 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped, as should staff members and anyone whose work involves handling food or looking after children, the elderly or patients.
Anyone recovering from gastro should avoid visiting hospitals, childcare centres and aged care facilities to avoid spreading the infection to those most vulnerable. Any person living in a household with someone who has gastro should also avoid visiting these high-risk facilities until at least 48 hours after the last person in the household has recovered.
Parents and educators who are concerned about symptoms are encouraged to contact their health professional for advice.
Baw Baw Shire Council will continue to work with and support the impacted Childcare Centres to ensure the best public health outcomes for children, staff, and families. Outbreaks are considered closed 48 hours after the last case has ceased symptoms.
For more information about managing gastroenteritis in an ECEC setting, please see here.