Parents are urged to be on alert for a rise in stomach upsets among children who have been in daycare ahead of Christmas.
Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton has issued a public health warning for gastroenteritis outbreaks in childcare settings.
There have been almost 60 gastroenteritis outbreaks in Victorian early childhood centres since the start of November compared to 19 in the same period last year.
This is highly infectious, transmissible in face-to-face contact and can impact people of all ages.
Professor Sutton has urged all parents and carers to keep children home if they show signs of the sickness.
Children must not attend childcare or group settings for at least 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped.
Anyone who is recovering from gastroenteritis should avoid high-risk settings, such as hospitals, aged care and time with vulnerable loved ones.
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, abdominal pain, headache and muscle aches, with more severe outcomes in the elderly and very young, according to the Victorian health department advisory. These can take up to three days to develop and usually last one or two days.
Hand washing is vital in prevention.
How to help your child with gastroenteristis
Children with gastroenteritis must keep drinking
- Offer clear fluids (or breastmilk if your baby is breastfeeding). If bottle feeding, give clear fluids for the first 12 hours, then give the normal formula in smaller, more frequent amounts.
- It is important for the fluids to be taken even if the diarrhoea seems to get worse.
- Offer babies a drink every time they vomit.
- Give older children a drink (150-200 millilitres) after every big vomit or bout of diarrhoea.
- Give small amounts of fluids often if your child is vomiting a lot (a mouthful every 15 minutes).
Go to the doctor if your child is very sick
Watch for signs of dehydration: dry mouth, dry nappies/not urinating, sunken eyes, cold hands and feet, sleepiness.
For 24-hour advice, phone Nurse-on-call 1300 606 024.
How to prevent gastroenteritis
- Everyone washes hands regularly with soap and water, especially after toileting or changing nappies and before and after eating.
- Clean kitchen tops, toys, toilet seats, nappy change tables and taps to ensure you don't spread the infection to others at home.
- Keep your child away from others until 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped. If symptoms persist, visit your GP.
- Don't allow your child to attend child care or school until 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped.