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Gastro: Please check on your neighbours

Presentations by people suffering from gastro illness to accident and medical centres today have been high with 40 people so far presenting to Hastings Health Centre.

Other accident and medical centres in the area are also seeing increased numbers of people with vomiting and diarrhoea.

Hawke’s Bay Hospital has two older people in its Intensive Care Unit in a critical condition, both with a gastro illness and both from Havelock North. One was admitted today and the other on Friday, which initially seemed unrelated. The type of bug they have has not yet been determined but it now looks likely that both are related to the gastro outbreak in Havelock North.

Medical Officer of Health Nick Jones said gastroenteritis affected older and younger people much more severely and older people needed to seek medical help early on if they weren’t getting better or couldn’t keep fluids down. The same applied to young children. Healthline is available 24/7 for advice 0800 611 116, from a registered nurse. 

“We really encourage the community to keep an eye out for older people living alone,” Dr Jones said.

The boil water notice for Havelock North residents’ remains in place, however chlorination of the water supply seems to have been effective and is now throughout the Havelock North water supply.

Medical Officer of Health Nick Jones said testing of sick people had identified that the majority of the illness being reported was campylobacter. “The boil notice will remain until we are confident there is no other bug resistant to chlorination in the water, which is expected to take several days.”

Campylobacter can’t be spread through the air but it can be spread if you swallow the bacteria. This may be from contaminated water and food, or from contact with infected people so hand washing is extremely important
Hands need to be washed thoroughly by using plenty of soap, cleaning under fingernails, rinsing hands well and drying on a clean towel:
• 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 

Symptoms of the illness being reported are diarrhoea and influenza-like symptoms; headaches, muscle pain, fever and feeling generally unwell. Symptoms could last up to 10 days but would usually get better without antibiotics.

Two pharmacies in Havelock North, Gilmour Pharmacy and Denton’s Pharmacy, opened today to provide more information and support for people as it was needed. 
Children and older people were most at risk of dehydration and fluids, while the diarrhoea lasted, was very important. More information is available from HERE or people could also call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice 24/7 from a trained registered nurse. 

For information on the water supply contact Hastings District Council call 06 871 5000.

18 December 2019

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