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Health Officials React To An Outbreak Of Stomach Yuck

Photo via Flickr// Sarah Gilbert

An outbreak of a nasty stomach bug has health officials getting the word out about basic hygiene. Dr. John Lanza, the Director of the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County, recently issued a release about a spike in the number of gastrointestinal infections reported in Escambia County.

Lanza says thirty plus people have come down with the illness causing vomiting, diarrhea and fever.  They are all part of the same outbreak, which involved children and workers at day care centers in the county. While you might expect the chilly weather keeping people inside as the cause, Dr. Lanza says it’s not so much the time of year but an event or circumstance that exposes a lot of people to a bug at once that can cause an outbreak like this. He says the classic case is the spring wedding where a sick caterer can cause illness in more than half a wedding party within a few days.

Dr. Lanza says good hygiene needs to be practiced by all ages. The number one thing to remember: was your hands. Often! With soapy water and lots of friction. Especially after using the bathroom.  Every time! If soapy water is not available, using an alcohol based hand sanitizer is sometimes effective, but they do not kill all the bugs that may make you sick.

Dr. Lanza also says if you do become ill, stay home from work or if your child is ill keep them home from school until they are symptom free for 48 hours. If you are sick, do not serve or prepare for anyone. Disinfect surfaces in the home that may have been contaminated by…fluids. And remove and wash clothing or linens that also may have been contaminated. And if you do get sick with vomiting, diarrhea and fever…the best advice is to try and ride it out. Keep the sick person hydrated. Food is not nearly as important as fluids. And if someone is not improving or is getting worse after a couple of days, a trip to the doctor might be a good idea. Also, if someone is taking fluids but not urinating, see a doctor.

If it helps, and it probably won't,Dr. Lanza says these types of infections are very common and usually cause tens of millions of sick and unhappy people every year nationwide.