Southern DHB reminds people to practice good hand hygiene during spring lambing and calving season

Southern DHB is reminding the public of the importance of good hand hygiene following an increase in the number of cases of gastroenteritis in the district. Rises in the number of cases of gastroenteritis due to Salmonella, Campylobacter, Giardia and Cryptosporidium have been noticed in recent weeks.

“We usually see more cases at this time of year as lambing and calving can increase people’s exposure to the pathogens which can cause gastroenteritis-type illnesses.” says Dr Marion Poore, Southern DHB Medical Officer of Health and Public Health Physician.

“The best way to avoid illness is good hand hygiene practices, involving washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and drying them thoroughly with a clean towel. This is especially important after working with animals, and before eating or smoking.

“Anyone working with livestock should change out of their work clothes before going about routine family or non-farm related activities.”

Complications from the various forms of gastroenteritis are rare but it is unpleasant and the pathogens can be easily spread. Symptoms usually appear within a few days of exposure, but can occur anywhere from one to 12 days.

Those unwell with gastroenteritis should stay away from work, school and preschool until symptom free for 48 hours to reduce the risk of spreading the infection.

Reduce the spread of gastroenteritis with good hand hygiene. Wash hands and dry thoroughly:

•             After touching animals, especially farm animals

•             After going to the toilet or changing nappies

•             Before eating, preparing or handling food.

•             After caring for anyone with diarrhoea or vomiting