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Dec 27, 2017

Virus, Not Ham and Turkey, has Belizeans Sick to their Stomachs

Are you feeling a little funny in your stomach? It may not be the extra ham, turkey, soft drink or black cake you ate this weekend, according to the Ministry of Health. Since the start of December, the Ministry’s information system for public hospitals and reports by private clinics have noticed an increase in the number of cases of gastroenteritis, in particular a viral infection affecting all sectors of the population but particularly those above the age of five years. It is unusual because it is happening outside the usual time period for such infections. While the ministry expects that it will run its course, Director of Health Services Dr. Marvin Manzanero told News Five today that the primary precaution of properly washing one’s hands will keep the virus away.

 

Marvin Manzanero

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“We did see a particular increase across all of the regions, and as I said, it is out of the norm, particularly also because you would normally expect gastroenteritis cases to be igher in the summer months and when school is starting, and this seemed to be really out of the norm. So that initial monitoring trend that we saw was flagged for the different regions to be on the alert for any other particular case, and in this case it seems to be a viral infection that’s going around.  It really has to do with proper hand washing, particularly if you’re’ going to be in areas where we are eating away from home, when we are not cooking food properly, or if you are in contact with lots of people, particularly with this Christmas season where people are going to be in closer contact with others it’s more likely that these things can flare up a little bit more. So it’s really just proper hand hygiene, in terms of before and after using the restroom, but consistently. And anti-bacterial gels and so on that people like to use, might not necessarily be the best option; it’s really proper hand washing.”

 

The Ministry has increased its surveillance activity at all district levels and is assisting in promoting best practices to prevent and reduce further spread of the illness. As for the proper method of hand washing, make sure to use clean running water and soap and pay attention to the the backs of hands, under fingernails and between fingers. The Ministry also advises that persons should wash their hands before and after preparing and eating food, after bathroom use, when handling garbage, after touching soiled areas or vomit, and also before and after caring for someone who is sick. Visit the nearest health center for treatment, especially if symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and fever worsen.

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