Gas­tro sweeps along the Mur­ray

The Riverine Herald - - COMMUNITY BILLBOARD - By Char­mayne Al­li­son

HOL­I­DAY-MAK­ERS in Echu­caMoama have been left with a bad taste in their mouth as gas­tro con­tin­ues to sweep through car­a­van and hol­i­day parks along the Mur­ray River.

The Camp­ing on the Mighty Mur­ray River Face­book page has been flooded with posts and com­ments after va­ca­tion­ers in Echuca, Co­bram, Tor­rum­barry, Tocumwal and Yar­ra­wonga were left bat­tling the dreaded bug.

Many are look­ing for an­swers, ques­tion­ing whether blue-green al­gae could be to blame — or the far more sin­is­ter threat of campers dump­ing food and bod­ily waste in the river.

While the Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices is still in­ves­ti­gat­ing the source, it is urg­ing safe hy­giene, food han­dling and swim­ming prac­tices at all times after the vi­ral dis­ease left sev­eral peo­ple re­cov­er­ing in hos­pi­tal.

Leitchville’s Ka­t­rina Leckie was just one lo­cal who at­tended Echuca Re­gional Health after five out of seven peo­ple in her group were struck down by the ill­ness.

‘‘My fi­ance´ and I, his cousin and his wife and four kids from Kyabram went to a sand­bar down O’Dwyers Rd,’’ she said.

‘‘All of us ex­cept my fi­ance´ got sick in the end, some with vom­it­ing and oth­ers with di­ar­rhoea. I copped the worst with bad tummy cramps as well.

‘‘Only I ended up go­ing to hos­pi­tal as I was so de­hy­drated and in so much pain — I came home six hours later.

‘‘We were just hop­ing for a re­lax­ing sum­mer day out on the river — we never thought we’d end up bat­tling gas­tro.’’

While some hol­i­day-mak­ers were con­cerned blue-green al­gae was caus­ing the ill­ness, Goul­burn Mur­ray Wa­ter con­firmed this was not the case.

‘‘GMW mon­i­tors the river and stor­ages for blue-green al­gae out­breaks, of which we have no cur­rent warn­ings,’’ a GMW spokesper­son said.

Echuca Re­gional Health di­rec­tor of nurs­ing June Dyson said the hos­pi­tal had treated a ‘‘small num­ber’’ of lo­cals dur­ing the past few days.

But she said con­tact with the Mur­ray River had not been iden­ti­fied as a fac­tor in the pre­sen­ta­tions to date.

DHHS said it was work­ing with the lo­cal coun­cils and fa­cil­ity own­ers to in­ves­ti­gate likely sources and pre­vent fur­ther spread of the ill­ness.

‘‘This in­cludes thor­ough clean­ing of the park’s bath­rooms and com­mon ar­eas,’’ a DHHS spokesper­son said.

‘‘Vi­ral gas­troen­teri­tis in par­tic­u­lar is highly con­ta­gious and spreads quickly from per­son to per­son where large num­bers of peo­ple are gath­ered and shar­ing fa­cil­i­ties, such as hol­i­day parks.

‘‘It is there­fore im­por­tant to limit the spread of cases through good hy­giene prac­tices. This is a timely re­minder for all hol­i­day mak­ers to wash their hands with soap.

‘‘It is also im­por­tant to use safe food han­dling and healthy swim­ming prac­tices at all times.’’ ■ For more in­for­ma­tion on how to avoid the dreaded bug, visit bet­ter­health.vic.gov.au

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