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Gastro cases on the rise

Published:Monday | February 15, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Nadisha Hunter, Gleaner Writer

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of cases of gastro-enteritis across the island.

Dr Karen Lewis-Bell, director of family-health services in the Ministry of Health, told
The Gleaner
that the hike in the number of cases could be attributed to the chronic water shortage that sections of the island are experiencing.

Lewis-Bell said that as a result of the drought, the ministry is concerned about the quality of water and the availability of potable water for frequent use in keeping with proper hygiene.

"We normally see an increase in the cooler parts of the month, but the increase is a little bit more than usual and so we are concerned about persons ensuring the quality of their water and making sure that they are washing their hands to help to prevent the spread of the viruses that are causing gastro-enteritis at this time," she said.

The director said because of the current water crisis, the risk of having a spread of several viruses is high.

Kingston and St Andrew, which are badly affected by the drought conditions, are among the parishes that have recorded the highest number of cases.

Lewis-Bell urged persons to be vigilant in ensuring the implementation of various preventative measures advised by the ministry.

In a release last week, the ministry warned householders and operators of educational institutions to store and treat drinking water properly in order to prevent diseases.

The Ministry of Health has urged the following preventative measures:

All storage containers and covers must be thoroughly cleaned before use.

These receptacles must be kept covered at all times to prevent mosquito breeding.

Drinking water must be purified by boiling or treating with small amounts of household bleach.

Proper hand washing is also strongly encouraged, especially at schools.