What is Gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis is sometimes called the stomach bug or also the stomach flu. It is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines.
What causes Gastroenteritis?
Many different viruses can cause gastroenteritis including rotaviruses, adenoviruses and astroviruses. It is not caused by the influenza viruses, although it is often called the 'stomach flu".
How is Gastroenteritis spread?
Viral gastroenteritis IS CONTAGIOUS. It is spread through close contact with infected persons, contact with contaminated surfaces, or by eating or drinking contaminated foods or beverages.
What are the symptoms?
Gastroenteritis can cause vomiting and/or diarrhea and may or may not be accompanied by fever, headache, stomach pain, or abdominal cramps.
How is Gastroenteritis treated?
It is important to keep hydrated. Clear fluids should be consumed for the first 24 hours. Clear fluids are anything you can see through. Popsicles and jell-o work well, since they are ingested slowly. Be careful, drinking too much fluid too quickly will distend the stomach and worsen the nausea. As food is tolerated, gradually reintroduce food starting with a soft-bland solid diet. A BRAT diet may be encouraged, which includes; bananas, rice, applesauce and toast.
How can Gastroenteritis be prevented?
The chances of getting infected can be greatly reduced by frequent and thorough hand washing, prompt disinfection of soiled surfaces and clothing, and avoiding food or water suspected of being contaminated. Persons MUST remain at home until 24 hours after all symptoms of illness have ceased.
How serious is Gastroenteritis?
Though most people who get gastroenteritis recover completely without any long term problems, it can lead to serious illness for persons who cannot drink enough fluids to replace what they lose through vomiting and diarrhea. They may need to be hospitalized for treatment to correct or prevent dehydration. Those at greatest risk for this include infants, young children, the disabled and the elderly. There are many causes of gastroenteritis including medications, certain medical conditions, bacteria or parasites, but most frequently the cause is viral.
Where can you get more information?
Your family doctor, your school Health Office and the local health department are excellent sources for information of all communicable diseases.
Parents of students with a communicable or contagious disease are asked to telephone the shcool Health Office so that other students who have been exposed to the disease can be alerted. Students with disease are not allowed to come to school while they are contagious.