Safeguard your family against tummy bugs this summer
Summer is here and with it comes the heightened risk of your child contracting diarrhoea.
More than 430 children under the age of 5 have been treated for diarrhoea without dehydration at health facilities in the Garden Route District from November until end December 2018. A further 127 have been admitted to hospital for treatment. Western Cape Government Health’s annual Paediatric Surge Season (PSS) is from November to end May – a time during which health facilities see an increased number of patients suffering from gastroenteritis.
“Our staff are on high alert for patients, especially children under the age of five, that show signs of dehydration. Dehydration, due to gastro, remains one of the main causes of illness and death in children under the age of five years. We have an Oral Hydration Solution (ORS) corner in all our facilities, portable water bags have been distributed to crèches where access to water is limited, and we have integrated diarrhoeal health messaging at our well baby clinics, resulting in increased awareness. We also have fast lanes at facilities for babies and toddlers with diarrhoea,” said Dr Helise Schumann, Director: Garden Route and Central Karoo District.
Causes and prevention
Diarrhoea is a highly infectious virus that thrives in hot weather, is transmitted by flies and preys on babies and kids. Children who are malnourished, those who have not been immunised and perhaps have other illnesses are far more likely to contract gastro and develop fatal complications as a result.
Some of the leading causes of diarrhoea are dirty water, dirty toilets, unwashed hands, bottle feeding, uncontained waste (illegal dumping), contaminated food and flies. It might not always be possible, but we should always aim to keep our hands, food, cooking utensils and toilets clean. Dustbins must be closed, animal droppings collected and thrown away, and food scrapings, used nappies and sanitary towels put into a plastic bag, knotted securely and thrown into a dustbin. Remember to wash your hands after completing these tasks.
It is important to maintain a high level of hygiene to ensure that your family is gastro free this season.
Sadly, even with the best hygiene, many will still get gastro. Try the oral rehydration solution to replenish lost body fluids. Take the solution with you should you need to take your child to the clinic so that your child does not dehydrate on the way. Using a clean 1 L bottle, mix 1 L cooled boiled water with ½ a teaspoon of salt and 8 teaspoons of sugar. Mix well.
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
Statistics per subdistrict
In Bitou 8 children were treated for gastro, and in Knysna subdistrict 47, of which 10 required admission to hospital.
In George subdistrict 122 children were treated for gastro, of which 30 required admission to hospital.
In Mossel Bay subdistrict 93 children were treated for gastro, of which 21 required admission to hospital.
In Hessequa subdistrict 12 children were treated for gastro, of which 4 required admission to hospital.
In Oudtshoorn subdistrict 109 children were treated for gastro, of which 46 required admission to hospital.
In Kannaland subdistrict 44 children were treated for gastro, of which 16 required admission to hospital.
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