The Collective Prevention Services (CPS) department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, reminds the community, and those working at food establishments and/or catering services, to properly wash their hands and prepare meals properly to prevent gastroenteritis this Thanksgiving and the upcoming Holiday season.
Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the stomach and intestine a.k.a. stomach flu, which is usually due to acute
infection by viruses or bacteria resulting in vomiting and diarrhea.
The most common symptoms of gastroenteritis are watery diarrhea and vomiting and repeated episodes of diarrhea
(three or more episodes within 24 hours). You might also have stomach pain, cramping, fever, nausea, and a
Viruses and bacteria can be transferred through poor hygiene. They spread through contamination of hands,
objects, hard surfaces, or food infected with the aforementioned. The virus enters your body via your mouth, this type of transmission is fecal-oral. Viral gastroenteritis may also be spread through coughing and sneezing.
For example, if someone does not wash their hands after going to the toilet, any viruses or bacteria on their hands will
be transferred to whatever they touch, such as glass, kitchen utensil or food. Upon coughing and sneezing without
using proper cough etiquette can spread viruses and bacteria.
To prevent the spread of the infection, wash your hands thoroughly after going to the toilet and before eating or
preparing food; clean the toilet, including the seat and handle, with disinfectant after each bout of vomiting or
diarrhea; don’t share towels, cutlery and utensils with other household members; practice proper cough etiquettes and
good hygiene practices and in consultation with your physician, you should not return to work until 48 hours after
your last bout of vomiting or diarrhea.
Practicing good personal and food hygiene are essential in preventing gastroenteritis. Good food hygiene entails properly and regularly washing your hands; properly and regularly clean preparation area/surfaces and utensils with
hot, soapy water; never store raw food and cooked foods together; avoid cross contamination of foods; make sure
that food is properly refrigerated; always cook your food thoroughly; and never eat food that has expired (past its
shelf date or sales date; and check for expiration dates).
Good personal hygiene entails properly and frequently washing your hands prior to preparing food; ensure your
clothing and food preparation area are clean; practice proper cough etiquettes in your food preparation area.
Consult your family physician if you have the vomiting/diarrhea and/or persisting symptoms so that your
physician can refer you to the laboratory for confirmation and typing of the clinical diagnosis.
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