Warning! Gastroenteritis reported at 2 Punggol childcare centres

Warning! Gastroenteritis reported at 2 Punggol childcare centres

Atleast 2 childcare centres in Punggol reported cases of gastroenteritis last month. What is gastroenteritis? What are the precautions that you need to take?

It has come to our notice that 2 childcare centres in Punggol were badly affected by gastroenteritis last month. The New Paper reports that, the affected centres were at Block 192, Punggol Central and Block 175D, Punggol Field.

It has emerged that at the centre at Block 192, Punggol Central, 5 out of 80 children, and 5 to 10 out of its 25 staff, reported feeling ill in the past few weeks. The centre also mentioned that it was unusual to have so many teachers affected as well.

No comments were offered by the centre at Block 175D, Punggol Field though. Coincidentally, both centres are operated by Bright Kids Childcare.

Four parents contacted by The New Paper have confirmed the gastroenteritis cases at the centre. They said a letter was given out by the centre about a month ago, stating that there were 10 to 15 cases of gastroenteritis, and that the centre was following up on the situation.

Madam Farizah, whose six-year-old son came down with the infection, said: "He fell sick for a day about three Fridays ago. He had a stomach ache and high fever. He was very weak.It was quite disruptive for a working parent like me.”

None of the other child care centres in Singapore have reported anything unusual though.

What is gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis is an infection of the gut (intestines). It causes diarrhoea and may also cause symptoms such as being sick (vomiting) and tummy (abdominal) pain. In most cases the infection clears within a few days, but sometimes it takes longer.

What causes gastroenteritis in children?

Gastroenteritis is usually caused by a virus, such as rotavirus or adenovirus. Rarely, it can be a bacterial infection too.

What are the signs and symptoms of gastroenteritis?

  • Diarrhoea (Runny, watery poo)
  • Vomiting
  • Tummy Pain
  • Fever

How does gastroenteritis spread?

  • Through direct contact with the infected person.
  • By touching infected surfaces.
  • Through improper hand washing.
  • By putting hands into mouth often.

How is gastroenteritis in children treated ?

Dehydration is a dangerous outcome of gastroenteritis. You can prevent this by:

  • Giving your child small quantities of fluids at frequent intervals.
  • If you are breastfeeding, keep doing so, at frequent intervals.
  • Avoid junk food and soft drinks.
  • Avoid coffee and tea as they can cause dehydration.

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Signs of dehydration

Watch for these warning signs:

  • dry mouth and tongue
  • sunken eyes
  • cold hands and feet
  • Unusually sleepy or inactive child
  • fewer wet diapers or not passing as much urine as usual

Any of the above signs signals an urgent visit to the doctor.

Other warning signs

Take your child to the doctor or hospital immediately if:

  • your child has vomiting and/or diarrhoea and is less than 6 months old – babies can become dehydrated and unwell quickly.
  • your child is drowsy and difficult to rouse.
  • your child has diarrhoea (8 to 10 watery motions in 1 day).
  • there is blood or mucus in your child's poo.
  • your child starts vomiting green fluid (bile).
  • your child develops severe stomach pains.
  • your child shows signs of dehydration.
  • your child's diarrhoea continues for more than 10 days.

Precautions that you need to take

  • Make hand washing a habit, especially after going to the toilet and after changing diapers.
  • Make sure the toilet is clean.
  • Isolate the infected child’s laundry and wash it with hot water.
  • Avoid sharing food and drinks.
  • If your child is affected, keep him/her away from school or kindergarten or daycare until the diarrhoea has cleared up.
  • Discourage your child from putting his hands into his mouth often.

(Source: The New Paper, kidshealth.org.nz)

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