Hundreds of Coast residents hit with gastro, food poisoning

GASTRO and food poisoning have plagued Sunshine Coast residents this year with hundreds struck down by the dreaded illness.

Almost 300 patients with gastro have presented to Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service facilities since January, already 50 above the yearly average.

REHYDRATE THE RIGHT WAY: When recovering from gastro, it's good to avoid caffeine and alcohol for several days.
REHYDRATE THE RIGHT WAY: When recovering from gastro, it's good to avoid caffeine and alcohol for several days. Samantha Elley

Salmonella rates have led to 161 people checking in, on track to surpass the 206 five-year average.

Despite the rise, Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service public health physician Dr Andrew Langley says it's not unusual.

"Gastrointestinal illness can be caused by a range of bacteria, viruses, parasites and also other substances," Dr Langley said.

"Some of the micro-organisms, including salmonella and gastro, are most commonly transmitted by food, particularly food that has been improperly stored, handled or cooked.

"Some are most commonly transmitted through consumption of contaminated water.

"Others, such as norovirus, are often passed directly from an infected person to another person."

To prevent gastrointestinal illness from food:

  • Wash your hands before handling or eating food
  • Keep the kitchen clean
  • Handle and store raw foods separately from cooked and ready‐to‐eat foods
  • Cook high‐risk foods (poultry including eggs, mince, burger patties, sausages, rolled roasts,
  • stuffed meats and seafood) thoroughly
  • Keep hot food hot (60C or above until served)
  • Keep cold food cold (in the refrigerator or freezer).
  • People with diarrhoea or vomiting should stay home from work, school and other activities, not prepare food, and drink plenty of fluids.

Although most people recover well from gastrointestinal illness in a few days, medical advice should be sought if:

  • Symptoms are very severe or persist
  • There is blood in the diarrhoea
  • The ill person is an infant, an older person or has other conditions (as the loss of fluids can have more severe impacts in these groups).

Salmonellosis (common bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract) rates:

2014: 185

2015: 241

2016: 199

2017: 227

2018: 179

2019: 161

Campylobacteriosis (infection by a bacterium) rates:

2014: 190

2015: 276

2016: 249

2017: 256

2018: 268

2019: 296