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Gastroenteritis is on the rise again in Westmoreland, says Medical Officer of Health for the parish, Dr. Marcia Graham.

Gastroenteritis is a condition that causes irritation and inflammation of the stomach and intestines. The symptoms may include headache, fever, and abdominal cramps (stomach aches).

Infection may be caused by bacteria or parasite in spoiled food, unclean water, or dirty hands.

“We have recently seen an increase in the illness again affecting, predominantly, our school-aged children. So, I want to encourage us in all our spaces to practise good hand hygiene [and] food safety, so that we can prevent vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and [other] such symptoms from occurring. Where they… occur, we are asking you to please seek medical attention,” Dr. Graham implored.

She was addressing the recent monthly meeting of the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation held in Savanna-la-Mar.

Dr. Graham indicated that, so far, there have been no deaths from dehydration due to gastroenteritis, “and we want to keep it that way”.

Meanwhile, she advised that the Health Department has embarked on a drive to ensure children are adequately protected against poliomyelitis, despite no reported case of the disease in the parish.

The Medical Officer further urged parents and guardians to do their part in ensuring that their children are not infected.

Poliomyelitis, or polio, is a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus.

Initial symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness of the neck and pain in the limbs.

The virus spreads from person to person and can infect an individual’s spinal cord, causing paralysis.

“We continue to ask… parents and guardians [to] bring your child’s health and development passport to the health centre, and this is for children 12 years and younger. We want to see those… passports, [and] we want to see the immunisation cards to make sure that they (children) are adequately protected against polio and other vaccine preventable diseases,” Dr. Graham said.

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