Ministry Of Health Records Sharp Increase In Gastroenteritis Cases

PR – The Ministry of Health, Wellness, and Religious Affairs (MOHWRA)  has confirmed an outbreak of gastroenteritis on the island with a steady increase over the past two  weeks. 

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shawn Charles, and National Surveillance Nurse, Meryl McQueen,  confirmed with the GIS that current numbers indicate that there is a sharp increase in the reported  number of gastroenteritis cases on the island, and as a result, the public must take immediate  personal action to curb the outbreak. 

According to Nurse McQueen, in epidemiological week number 26 of 2022, there were 27 cases  of the illness. She added that following week (week 27), the numbers moved to 52 cases and now  the data for week 28 showed 95 confirmed cases, which represents an 82.7% increase over the  previous week. On average, the number of gastroenteritis cases that is expected at this time is 50. 

Nurse McQueen explained that whereas there are no identified clusters by location, the most  affected districts were St. George and St. Andrew. The Ministry’s Gastro Epi-data for week 28  highlights the most affected age groups and the number of cases, respectively

Under 1 yr. (5) 

1-4 yrs. (27) 

5-14 yrs. (20) 

15-24 yrs. (7) 

25-44 yrs. (28) 

45-64 yrs. (6) 

65 yrs. & over (2) 

Given the current upward trend in the data, health experts say they are anticipating an increased  risk of people coming down with gastroenteritis in the coming days and weeks as the Carnival  celebrations intensify. “We have been monitoring the trend, and we can say that it has increased  sharply from weeks 27 to 28.” So, if people do not practice proper hygiene and take the necessary  precautions, the numbers will continue to rise,” according to CMO/Epidemiologist Dr. Shawn  Charles.

He said consequently, the Ministry has heightened its public health response, including its public  education campaign, which is ongoing as it relates to proper hand hygiene and consumer food  safety tips during the festive season as well as food safety training for street food vendors. In  addition, all health districts have stepped up surveillance and management of the illness. 

Gastroenteritis is a condition that causes irritation and inflammation of the stomach and intestines.  It is caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated by a bacteria or virus or by improper  hand washing, especially after using the toilet. Symptoms of gastroenteritis include vomiting,  abdominal pain, diarrhoea, upset stomach, and stomach cramps. 

As part of its public health mandate, the Ministry says while pipe-borne water is often properly  treated, people who feel concerned or collect and store water for consumption and household use,  should boil their water out of an abundance of caution.