We are currently experiencing an outbreak of diarrhoea and vomiting on St Helena. This is also known as gastroenteritis. It is most commonly caused by a virus and is easily spread from person to person. It is normally able to be managed at home with fluids or rehydration salts (such as dioralyte). It should go away within two to three days.

 Key Points:

  • There is no treatment for viral gastroenteritis other than rest and fluids
  • Stay at home and avoid contact with others
  • It usually goes away within two to three days
  • Avoid coming to hospital/clinics, as diarrhoea and vomiting can be very dangerous and sometimes fatal for our other patients (both in hospital and clinics)
  • If you are a diabetic and cannot keep food or fluid down, please telephone early for advice
  • DO NOT go to work or send children to school/crèche if they have diarrhoea and vomiting and for 48 hours after it has stopped
  • Do not prepare food for others
  • Monitor diabetics, children and the elderly for signs of dehydration
  • WASH HANDS THOROUGHLY WITH SOAP AND RUNNING WATER FOR AT LEAST 10 SECONDS
  • Drink plenty of fluids/rehydration salts (such as dioralyte)
  • Avoid undiluted fruit juice and soft/fizzy drinks

Get medical advice if:

  • You have symptoms of severe dehydration, such as persistent dizziness, only passing small amounts of urine or no urine at all, or if you’re losing consciousness
  • You have bloody diarrhoea
  • You have severe constant abdominal pain
  • You’re vomiting constantly and are unable to keep down any fluids
  • You have a fever over 38C (100.4F)
  • Your symptoms haven’t started to improve after a few days
  • In the last few weeks you’ve returned from a part of the world with poor sanitation
  • You have a serious underlying condition, such as kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease or a weak immune system, and have diarrhoea and vomiting

Your Doctor may suggest sending off a sample of your stool to a laboratory to check what’s causing your symptoms. Antibiotics may be prescribed if this shows you have a bacterial infection.

The ‘Simple Solution’ – Homemade Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) Recipe

  1. Six level teaspoons of sugar
  2. Half level teaspoon of salt
  3. One litre of clean drinking or boiled water and then cooled – five cupfuls (each cup about 200 mls).

A full factsheet on Viral Gastroenteritis can be found on the Health Directorate page of the SHG website: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Viral-Gastroenteritis-Full-Fact-Sheet-28-March-2019.pdf

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SHG

28 March 2019

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