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Gastric illness: Health board answers frequently asked questions

The Hawke’s Bay District Health Board public health team is getting questions from people concerned about what to do during the gastro outbreak.

Below are some of the most frequently asked and the team’s response to them.

Is the ‘Boil Water Notice’ still in force?

Yes.  It is important that you boil water for at least one minute. Any water that you drink, use in food preparation and for brushing your teeth should be boiled before use. Refer to the boil water advice for further information:

Are instant water boiling systems considered hot enough – or do I need to re-boil?

There are different types of instant boiling water systems that are likely to reach different temperatures for different lengths of time. It is recommended that these are not relied on for boiling water.

Water needs to be brought to a rolling boil for at least one minute. This should be done by placing the water in a clean metal pan and bring to a rolling boil for at least one minute.

Electric jugs with a cut-off switch can be used as long as they are full – allow the water to come to the boil and switch off. Do not hold the switch down to increase the boiling time.

Boiled water should be covered and allowed to cool in the same container. The taste will improve if allowed to stand for a few hours before use. 

Does hand sanitiser kill campylobacter?

Hand sanitisers can be used in addition to hand washing but should not be used instead of hand washing.

Hands need to be washed thoroughly by using plenty of soap and warm water, cleaning under fingernails, rinsing hands well and drying on a clean towel:

before eating
before and after preparing food
after going to the toilet or changing a baby’s nappy
after caring for people with campylobacter
after playing or working with animals.

The advice given for hand washing methods are either:

Use bottled or boiled water and soap, ensure hands are thoroughly dried.
Use soap and tap water followed by an additional hand disinfection, by either:

Rinsing hands in disinfectant solution (add 1 teaspoon plain household bleach to 10 litres of water and allow to stand for 30 minutes before use. Change solution frequently)
Using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser containing at least 60% alcohol

Wet wipes used for cleaning babies are not effective for disinfecting hands, so follow hand washing guidance. Here is a guide to effective hand washing technique


4 October 2017

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