Doc warns on stom­ach bug

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - AN­DREW BACK­HOUSE an­drew. back­house1@ news. com. au

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.

Pic­ture: FIONA HARD­ING

PLAS­TIC BAN: En­vi­ron­men­tal war­rior and The Cathe­dral School stu­dent Ri­ley Rose, 11.

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