Barbados health authorities have issued an alert for gastroenteritis even as they said that surveillance for the infection of the lining of the digestive tract has not detected an increase beyond what is expected so far this year.
But they said they have received reports of a number of severe cases, particularly among people over the age of 60. They gave no figures.
Gastroenteritis is an infection of the lining of the digestive tract with symptoms that include nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, low fever, headache, muscle aches, chills and tiredness.
“The most serious complication is dehydration or a depletion of fluid in the body. This may be especially dangerous in young children, elderly persons and those with an underlying health problem such as diabetes, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease and kidney disease,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement.
It said that severe dehydration should be treated as an emergency and immediate medical attention should be sought and that the signs and symptoms of dehydration may include increased thirst, dry mouth, swollen tongue, weakness, confusion, sluggishness, fainting, an inability to sweat and decreased urine output. Mild dehydration, however, is usually easily reversed by drinking lots of fluids.
Gastroenteritis may be caused by viruses, bacteria or other microorganisms and the Ministry of Health is reminding people that hand washing after using the toilet; after having episodes of diarrhoea or vomiting; after changing diapers; after touching any stool?soiled or vomit-soiled materials, toilets, or surfaces; before handling food or drink.