Chief Environmental Health Officer Lionel Michael is urging all persons in the British Virgin Islands to use the various preventative methods to minimise their chances of contracting the gastroenteritis (gastro) virus.
This follows increased reports of persons contracting the virus in the territory.
Confirming the reports, Michael said: “I’ve been advised that there has been an increase in cases of gastro,” he told BVI News.
Thorough handwashing important
Michael also listed a number of good health practices persons should pursue to prevent themselves from contracting the virus. He described handwashing as the single most important practice persons should undertake.
“The first thing people want to do in preventing gastro is to engage in thorough and frequent handwashing, especially after using the bathroom, after contact with soil, when handling raw foods and when touching animals and so on, they’re to wash their hands,” Michael stated.
Use safe water
He further said that in addition to washing hands, persons should ensure they are using safe water for all purposes.
“Water in your home; from your cisterns, from your tanks and if your using the government supply, make sure the water is safe. It can be made safe by using household bleach or Clorox, by boiling the water and you can use chlorine tablets. People must not drink water from their cistern tanks without first making it safe,” Michael added.
Good health practices in all environments
Another important measure that he outlined was the need for good health practices in the homes, work place and business environment. This should also include the proper and efficient disposal of waste material.
“Always try to buy food that is hot, up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and hotter, and if the food is cold, it should be 41 degrees Fahrenheit and colder. So safe food is critical and they should also ensure the kitchen environment is clean,” Michael advised.
“Use sanitisers, wash dishes properly, clean and sanitise the surfaces the best way they can, using vinegar, household bleach and hot water and so on,” he added.
What is the gastroenteritis?
Gastro is a condition that causes irritation and inflammation of the stomach and intestines.
The Ministry of Health said “is typically caused by a bacteria, virus or parasite in spoiled/contaminated food, unclean water or dirty/unwashed hands. If untreated, gastroenteritis can cause death in young children less than five years old.”
The ministry also listed a number of symptoms associated with the illness such as “diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach upset. The affected person may also have headache, fever, and abdominal cramps (stomachaches). Diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration especially in small children.”
Resident who may have any of the listed symptoms are advised to contact their physician to seek medical attention
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