Summer is in full swing and with it comes the heightened risk of contracting germs that cause diarrhoea. Children, especially those under five-years-old, are most at risk of contracting diarrhoea. More than 130 children have been admitted to hospitals in the Eden district for treatment thereof since the start of the Paediatric Surge Season (PSS) in November 2017 until 21 January 2018. Dehydration caused by diarrhoea is one of the highest causes of death in early childhood. Making sure your family wash their hands between activities is the most effective way to prevent it. The Diarrhoea Season (DDS), which has changed to the Paediatric Surge Season to include malnutrition and pneumonia in children, runs from November until May.
Hand washing as a regular hygiene routine can play a significant role in the prevention of disease, since 80% of germs are spread from our hands. Even if your home does not have running water or if you have water restrictions, keep a plastic cool drink bottle filled with water handy so that you can rinse your hands with clean water after washing them. Wash toys, feeding bottles and dummies in hot, soapy water and rinse well. Teething toys must be kept separately and rinsed regularly. Don’t let rubbish lie around or allow children to play in puddles; dirty water spreads disease. Clean up animal waste immediately. If your child has a fever, is vomiting, has a loose stool or blood in their stools, and refuses to eat or drink, they’re probably suffering from diarrhoea.
If your child gets diarrhoea, check them for these signs of dehydration:
• Dry or sticky mouth
• Few or no tears when crying
• Lack of urine, or only a very small amount of dark yellow urine
• Dry, cool skin
• Tiredness and irritability
• Headache and stomach ache
Mix 8 teaspoons of sugar and ½ a teaspoon of salt in 1 litre of cooled, boiled water, and get your child to take regular sips. If their condition doesn’t improve, take them to your nearest clinic. Don’t wait in the queue; go straight to the receptionist for immediate attention. For more information contact your nearest healthcare facility.