Department of Health

Wash away gastro bugs for festive season

Published by Department of Health & Human Services

Gastroenteritis cases across Victoria are surging in the lead up to Christmas and New Year’s Day, with Victorians being reminded to practice good personal hygiene inside and out of the home.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr Rosemary Lester today issued a health warning for the festive season.

“Over the past two months, there has been a 10 per cent increase in outbreaks of gastro in the community reported to the Department of Health,” Dr Lester said.

“The cases are most commonly caused by poor personal hygiene; they can also result from poor food handling practices.

“Preventing cases of gastro can be as simple as practicing good personal hygiene such as washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water. And if you do fall ill, stay at home and never prepare food for others.

“In addition, the Department of Health’s Healthy Swimming Initiative provides simple advice on keeping pools clean to prevent cases of gastro.”

Dr Lester said during the festive season we are busy celebrating with work colleagues, friends and families, enjoying BBQs in the summer sun and cooking family Christmas feasts.

“The gastro bug is common and highly contagious – so it is now more important to ever to practice good personal hygiene to stop the spread of germs that cause gastro,” Dr Lester said. “I urge everyone to think about food safety this Christmas and New Year’s and wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food for the family.

“Bugs that cause gastro can easily spread from person to person, initially in household settings, but it can find its way into hospitals, aged care facilities and child care centres from the general community.

“These viruses can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, muscle aches and pains and fever. The illness can last for 24 to 48 hours, but those who fall ill can be contagious for 48 hours after symptoms stop.

“Thorough hand washing is the key to food safety and preventing gastro, especially before eating, after going to the toilet, after handling pets and changing nappies. Cleaning contaminated surfaces is also an important measure.

“If you have symptoms of gastro it is important to stay at home while you recover and avoid Christmas and New Year’s parties – and never prepare food for others when sick.”

Find out more information at Shop, store, cook and eat safe.

Reviewed 24 December 2014


Contact details

Bram Alexander Department of Health Media Unit

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