Gastro outbreak: New strain likely cause of spike in NSW cases, health officials say

A new strain of gastroenteritis could be responsible for an outbreak affecting more than 3,000 people across New South Wales, health authorities have said.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of people presenting at emergency departments with symptoms of the virus, including diarrhoea and vomiting.

Health authorities have warned people to wash their hands and stay home if they have symptoms of gastroenteritis.

NSW Health director of communicable diseases Vicky Sheppeard said childcare centres and aged-care facilities were at particular risk.

"We have seen a number of outbreaks," she said.

"Probably, most of the outbreaks have been in childcare centres and you can imagine it's hard to maintain high levels of hygiene with children in child care.

"So once the bug does get into a childcare centre it does spread very rapidly."

Dr Sheppeard said people should reserve emergency department visits for those who are unable to retain fluids.

People with symptoms are being urged to stay home from work and school to prevent the virus from spreading further.

"Once the symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea have settled, 24 hours, later you'll be fine to go back to child care or work," Dr Sheppeard said.

Hospitality and healthcare workers are advised to wait 48 hours after symptoms disappear before returning to work.


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