South Australia has been grappling with a significant rise in rotavirus infections over the last year. According to data from SA Health, the number of cases has doubled, with hundreds of cases reported across the state.
This increase is a serious cause for concern, given the highly contagious nature of the virus and its prevalence among children and infants. The spike in infections has impacted various sectors, including several childcare centres and aged care facilities.
Causes and Symptoms of Rotavirus
Rotavirus is primarily spread through contaminated surfaces, hands, food or water. It is orally ingested and known for causing gastroenteritis, which can lead to severe symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, and fever.
Infections are particularly prevalent in childcare environments due to their highly infectious nature, spreading primarily through contact with contaminated surfaces or faecal matter.
Monitoring and Response from Health Authorities
SA Health has been closely monitoring the situation, noting that while many causes of gastroenteritis don’t represent a serious concern, rotavirus stands out due to its severity and prevalence.
A staggering 946 cases were recorded over the most recent 12-month period, a considerable increase from the 407 cases reported over the previous 12 months. The illness, while particularly severe in young children and infants, can affect individuals of all ages. Serious cases may lead to hospitalisation due to severe dehydration.
Reinforcing Hygiene and Control Measures
In response to the outbreak, health officials and childcare centres are reinforcing their commitment to food safety and hygiene practices by implementing robust infection control procedures and ensuring that staff are well-trained and aware of public health requirements.
Similarly, SA Health has issued public reminders about the importance of good hand hygiene, regular cleaning and sanitising of shared surfaces, and staying home when ill to prevent further virus spread.
Precautionary Measures Within the Community
As rotavirus can quickly spread within community settings, the health department advises those infected to avoid childcare, school or work until at least 24 hours after symptoms have ceased. This precautionary measure is crucial to curbing the outbreak and ensuring public safety.
The recent spike in rotavirus cases serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges in managing infectious diseases and the importance of effective hygiene practices and education. As South Australia confronts this health challenge, the community's response and adherence to preventive measures will be pivotal in controlling the spread of this debilitating illness.
The Role of Food Safety Training
Food safety training encompasses several practices that can help combat the spread of rotavirus, including personal hygiene, cleaning and sanitising procedures.
Want to improve hygiene within your food business? Enrol with Food Safety First today or get in touch to learn more about our food safety courses.