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In light of the prevailing drought impacting the parish, the Health Education Unit of the Westmoreland Public Health Department is urging citizens to practise proper water safety measures to prevent gastroenteritis.
Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the lining of the stomach and intestines. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and fever, which usually last 24 to 72 hours.
Health Promotion and Education Officer for Westmoreland, Gerald Miller, told JIS News that, “in many areas in the parish, persons have to rely heavily on water harvesting as well as the purchasing of water from water trucks; so, we just want persons to ensure that they are treating their water”.
“We want our stakeholders to be very vigilant, in particular, principals and teachers, to ensure that the children’s hygiene at school is not compromised and their safety, in terms of the consumption of water. Just be vigilant, because we don’t want any possible outbreak of gastroenteritis in the parish at this time,” he emphasised.
Persons may treat their water by boiling it for up to five minutes and allowing it to cool.
Water may also be treated by using bleach. For one litre (one quart) of water, add two drops of bleach.
For 20 litres (five US gallons) of water, add half teaspoon of bleach, and for 170 litres (45 US gallons) of water, add four and a half teaspoons of bleach.
The bleach should be thoroughly mixed in the water and left for 30 minutes before using.
To prevent water contamination, the Westmoreland Public Health Department advises that the commodity must be stored in a clean covered container, the lid of which should fit tightly to prevent mosquito breeding. A clean container with a handle must also be used to retrieve the water.
Containers that have stored harmful chemicals should not be used to carry or store water.