Viral Gastroenteritis, known locally as ‘the bug’, is currently doing the rounds on St Helena.

It commonly causes diarrhoea and nausea/vomiting and can cause cramping, stomach pain, fever, and headache. Symptoms can last up to 10 days, but usually resolve after around 4-7 days in most people.

There is no cure for gastroenteritis and it just needs to be left to run its course, with symptom management.

Although it is very unpleasant, the biggest risk with gastroenteritis is dehydration.

Dehydration can be avoided by drinking plenty of fluids, small sips at a time. If you (or a family member) feel excessively thirsty or dehydrated, the use of Oral Rehydration Solution is advised. This is available over the counter at the Pharmacy or at some local shops, for example Dioralyte.

Because of the dangers of dehydration, those most at risk are the sick, very young children, diabetics and the elderly.

Symptoms of dehydration in adults include:

  • Tiredness
  • Muscular cramps
  • A dry mouth and tongue
  • Dizziness or light headedness
  • Sunken eyes
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Passing of little urine
  • Becoming irritable

Children can get dehydrated quickly, so if your child has the bug, it’s important that you look for signs that they are very thirsty or have dry skin, or a dry mouth. If you have a baby, look for fewer, drier nappies.

It is for this reason we ask that you please do not come to the hospital unless absolutely necessary, as the risk of infecting current inpatients and others is high.

Most cases of gastroenteritis resolve within a week. This is normal. The diarrhoea and nausea/vomiting usually clears up first, but some abdominal cramping and pains can remain for 1 or 2 days afterwards.

Unfortunately not even an antidiarrhoeal like Imodium (loperamide) will shorten the course of the illness. This is why we do not prescribe it for gastroenteritis.

If you or a family member show symptoms of dehydration or cannot keep any fluids down, please contact the hospital or the Community Nursing Team immediately for advice and guidance. If you are at all concerned, please telephone: 22500 or 23563.

All staff has been fully briefed on what can and cannot be dispensed as treatment for gastroenteritis. You can however purchase any other medications from the shops that you wish.

Abuse of Health Directorate Staff will not be tolerated. This includes face-to-face and over the telephone. All incidents of abuse will be reported to the Police.


10 January 2017





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