Gastroenteritis affecting young children says CMO

Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the stomach and intestines as a result of bacterial toxins or viral infection that causes vomiting and diarrhea. 

According to Dr. Martin, there has been an increase in the number of cases of vomiting and diarrhea affecting children under five years of age. He stated that the symptoms suggest a viral cause, and that with good management, the affected child would get better in about two to three days time.

However, the CMO cautioned that any infant who is vomiting at a rate of 4 or more episodes within 3 to 4 hours requires medical attention. Parents and guardians should take that child to a doctor, the nearest health center or a hospital.

In treating children at home, follow these guidelines provided by the Chief Medical Officer:

1.Prevent and treat dehydration – Give clear liquids such as coconut water and hydration fluid (available from supermarkets or pharmacies) at a rate of 3 to 4 ounces every 3 to 4 hours. Discontinue all milk feeds except breast milk. Discontinue all juices, other sweet beverages and snacks. Do not give soda beverages such as Sprite and Coca Cola. Do not give medications that claim to stop vomiting and diarrhea. Do not give antibiotics; they are useless and hazardous. Go to the nearest emergency room if the child is weak or has dark colored urine. Contact your health center or personal physician if there are questions.

2.Prevent or interrupt the spread of infection. Children with vomiting and diarrhea must not attend daycare or preschool. Caretakers must wash their hands frequently with soap and water. Soiled diapers must be properly bagged for collection and disposal.  Bleach may be added. Countertops and doorknobs should be wiped with detergent.

Meanwhile, the chief medical officer has provided brief updates on Measles, Chikungunya and Ebola.

The CMO recommends that persons travelling to the USA with an unvaccinated child should contact the community health centers or their personal physician for advice. 

There is an outbreak of measles in the USA, and it is a disease that is a highly contagious. The viral illness causes pneumonia and other complications.    

Measles was eradicated from the Federation because of the free vaccination program offered by the Ministry of Health through community health centers.  The last known case of measles in the Federation was in 1992.

“Any unvaccinated child coming to the Federation from the USA, or any other country where measles is endemic, who develops fever and a rash, must be taken for medical attention,” the CMO stated.    

On the matter of chikungunya, Dr. Martin disclosed that reported new cases continue to decline.  He urged residents to continue mosquito eradication measures.

According to the CMO, the Federation is at very low risk for Ebola virus entry, however, he encourages vigilance and the continued collaboration among OECS and CARICOM countries, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). 


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