Officials warn of surge in local gastric sickness

| 12/02/2012

gastroenteritis.jpg(CNS): With more than one hundred cases of gastroenteritis cases reported in the past two weeks, the Public Health Department is issuing a health warning. The Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kiran Kumar said that while there is often an increase in cases in the winter months the increase is significant. From the normal numbers of between 15 and 25 cases being reported to the Health Services Authority facilities each week with more than sixty were reported  in each of the last two weeks, the doctor said adding that this appeared to be a viral outbreak which experts are currently trying to identify. 

“Since Sunday, 5 February, about 67 people sought medical attention at the Health Services Authority facilities. Both children and adults are affected,” Dr Kumar added.

He said that 28 of those 67 people were under 5 years old and 18 children (most of which were under five were admitted to the paediatric ward for medical care.
“All are doing well and based on the patients’ symptoms it appears to be viral gastroenteritis,” Dr. Kumar clarified.

Public health officials will continue to monitor the incidence of gastroenteritis, he noted and stated that stool tests are being carried out t to identify the virus or bacteria which are causing the illnesses.

“Regardless of which virus is causing gastroenteritis, it is passed in stools, usually for one week. In addition, some viruses live in the respiratory secretions of infected children, and may thus enter the atmosphere. It is therefore important to practice good hygiene, especially when a child passes stools indiscriminately,” the public doctor warned.

Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and the small and large intestine resulting in diarrhoea and vomiting; abdominal cramps; fever; and dehydration. It is caused by a variety of viruses or bacteria, with the most common being the norovirus and rotavirus.

“If disposable diapers are used, take extra care when disposing it. If left in open garbage containers, flies may transfer germs from the stools to food and other articles thereby spreading the disease further,” explained Dr. Kumar.

To stem the outbreak of diarrhoeal disease, people should avoid contact with those who are ill, keep sick children out of schools/nurseries, stay away from work until 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped, wash hands often, especially when caring for a sick person scrubbing for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or an alcohol- based hand cleaner and control flies by ensuringsanitary premises, including proper collection and disposal of garbage.

Drinking water must be safe; use desalinated, bottled or boiled water and disinfect cisterns by adding 2½ ounces of bleach for each 1,000 gallons of water in the cistern.

Soiled disposable diapers should be placed in a garbage bag and securely tied. The bag should then be placed into a securely covered container for collection. Toilets should be disinfected after use by sick persons, so that others will not contract the illness.

Do not share towels, cups, or food with sick persons.

For more information, call the Public Health Department on 244-2632 or 244-2621, or Faith Hospital on 948-2243. For assistance with cisterns or sanitary advice, call the Department of Environmental Health on 949-6696 in Grand Cayman or 948-2321 on the Brac. 

See fact sheet on the illness below


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Health

Comments (5)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:


    My family and I suffered greatly for the first 24 hour period of this virus. It was Horrible! But I soon realized that my usual regular use of eating a clove of raw garlic helped with ALL of my symptoms. Within two days I went from bedridden to exercising. I shared my secret with family and they too recovered very quickly. We also drank fresh Ginger tea and that helped with the nausea. The best part is my two year old who also suffered with the virus was not hospitalized as a result of him chewing VERY small pieces of Garlic and drinking Ginger tea regularly though it was fed to him through a dispenser.

    Thank God for Garlic and Ginger!

  2. Wonder if? says:

    Is this outbreak linked in any way to the Taste of Cayman food poisoning? It seems too close to me for a potential link not to exist especially as most of the affected people stayed home with diarrhea only symptoms.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good point but the time scale doesn't work.

      Norovirus takes about 24 hours to hit the victim and the people from Taste of Cayman were talking about 4-6 hours before the problems started.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I put the blame squarely on Mac.  His recent rantings are enough to give anyone heartburn!

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is not an uncommon problem and is easy to control if basic hygiene precautions are observed but I am very surprised to see alcohol-based hand cleaners being recommended, particularly when this kind of illness commonly involves children.

    In trials conducted in the UK water-based hand cleaners have proved to be not only much safer than the alcohol-based alternatives, which are inflammable and toxic, but far more effective. 

    I just spent over three months visiting someone in an NHS hospital over here, all the available hand washes there were alcohol-free and that hospital currently has a zero rate of norovirus infection over the past two years.