Doc warns on stomach bug
STOMACH bugs are rife at this time of year and a Townsville public health official is warning residents to beware.
Dr Steven Donohue says winter is the peak season for gastroenteritis. The Townsville Public Health Unit director said some schools and childcare centres were on alert for outbreaks of the illness.
Gastroenteritis, also called stomach flu, can spread by the vomit or faeces of an infected person, such as by sharing food, water, or eating utensils.
Dr Donohue said it was important for sick people to stay away from places like schools and childcare centres. “It’s not unexpected to see an increase in winter,” he said.
Dr Donohue said the city was also well into flu season.
“People are starting to get various types of influenza,” he said.
People should be vaccinated and practise good hygiene, Dr Donohue said. “Be clean and don’t cough and sneeze on others. Handwashing is also important,” he said.
The strains affecting the city include swine flu– H1N1 and H3N2 – as well as a strain of influenza B.
Dr Donohue also warned residents to be wary of Parotitis, also called the mumps.
He said there were more reported cases of the mumps this year than in previous years.
“Most of the increase has been in the top end of Australia in remote and indigenous communities,” he said.
Dr Donohue said the vaccine weakened over time in some people and anyone in doubt of their status should visit their doctor and get a free dose. The vaccine is considered harmless except to people with immune system issues and pregnant women.
Another concern for health officials is meningococcal, a bacterial infection that can cause death within hours.
While the number of cases has not risen, a new and unusual strain has emerged which is considered more lethal.
Concerns about the strain prompted the Queensland Government to introduce a new vaccination campaign for teenagers at schools.
PLASTIC BAN: Environmental warrior and The Cathedral School student Riley Rose, 11.