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Outbreak of gastroenteritis cases in St. Lucia

June 11, 2024

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, CMC -St. Lucia is reporting a significant increase in the number of cases of people suffering from gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines, typically caused by viral, bacterial or parasitic infections.

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs said that the cases were being presented to healthcare facilities throughout the island and that so far this year, over 700 cases of gastroenteritis have been recorded.

It said that this is a 30 per cent increase in the numbers recorded for corresponding period last year and that five per cent of the cases have been admitted to and treated in hospital.

The ministry said that while most of the cases have been treated at the emergency departments of the OKEU and St Jude Hospitals, elevated numbers of cases have also been recorded in certain health regions with as much as 130 per cent increase in documented cases as compared to this time last year.

Gastroenteritis is often characterized by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever and the health authorities said that several factors may be contributing to the rise in gastroenteritis cases.

It said these include certain viruses, such as norovirus and rotavirus, which are common causes of gastroenteritis outbreaks, particularly in shared spaces.

“We observe that the symptomatology and ease of resolution of the symptoms of the affected cases suggests a viral cause of the gastroenteritis. The Ministry of Health is working towards identifying the exact causative agents for this outbreak and encourages persons to submit stool samples for testing.”

The ministry said also that the consumption of contaminated food or water can lead to the spread of gastrointestinal infections, especially in settings with poor hygiene or sanitation practices. This can be further compounded with inadequate water supply.

It warned also that close contact with infected individuals or exposure to contaminated surfaces can facilitate the transmission of gastroenteritis within the community and households, adding “we also observe that many of the affected persons live within the same households.

“While cases of gastroenteritis are not uncommon amongst the populace, the current maintained increase in cases warrants attention and proactive measures to prevent further spread within our communities.”

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