BENDIGO residents are being reminded about the importance of good personal hygiene after a state-wide spike in gastro cases.
The Department of Health has confirmed an increase in the number of cases of gastro caused by the cryptosporidium parasite which is found in the faeces of humans, cattle and other animals.
There have now been 458 cases of cryptosporidiosis notified to the department this year, compared to 88 for the same period last year.
The Department of Health did not have a region by region breakdown of the figures but Bendigo Health confirmed a central Victorian was recently affected by a small gastro outbreak.
Bendigo Health’s infection control manager Jane Hellsten said the best way to prevent highly contagious gastro was through good personal hygiene.
“Hand hygiene, hand hygiene, hand hygiene – I can’t emphasize that enough,” she said.
“It’s about cleaning and washing your hands often and even carrying alcohol hand rubs when you’re out and about.
“They’re good to use prior to eating or when you’re stuck out and about with nowhere to wash your hands.
“Gastro is basically spread on hands – dirty hands handling commonly touched items like door knobs and handles – so hand hygiene is all important.”
Ms Hellsten said people experiencing gastro symptoms should avoid contact with other people.
“People sick with it should stay home,” she said. “Take yourself out of circulation for a while.”
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr Rosemary Lester said there was a link between the increase in notifications and the recent spate of hot weather which saw large numbers of people seek relief at their local swimming pools.
“The condition is caused by swallowing the parasite, with symptoms including watery diarrhoea, stomach cramps and vomiting,” Dr Lester said.