NSW Health is urging parents and carers to keep young children at home if they are sick following a rise in viral gastroenteritis cases in childcare centres.
NSW Health's Health Protection executive director Richard Broome said gastroenteritis was highly infectious and could spread rapidly in childcare centres.
"Nearly 60 childcare centres reported outbreaks of gastroenteritis in October, which is significantly higher than usual," Dr Broome said.
"More than 480 children and 120 staff have been affected.
"And levels remained high throughout November."
Symptoms of viral gastroenteritis include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, abdominal pain, headache and muscle aches. It can take up to three days for symptoms to develop. Symptoms usually last one to two days.
Treatment includes rest and fluids. Most people recover without complications, but gastroenteritis can be serious for infants, people with suppressed immune systems and the elderly.
"The best defence is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water for at least 10 seconds before handling and eating food, and always wash your hands after using the toilet, changing nappies or assisting someone who has diarrhoea or vomiting," Dr Broome said.
"Infants or children in childcare or school who develop vomiting or diarrhoea should stay at home for at least 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped, as should staff members and anyone whose work involves handling food or looking after children, the elderly or patients."
Anyone who has or is recovering from gastroenteritis should avoid visiting hospitals and aged care facilities, while anyone living in a household affected by gastroenteritis should refrain from visiting these high-risk areas for at least 48 hours after the last person in the household has recovered.
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