WARNING: Highly infectious viral outbreak affects school

A HIGHLY infection illness causing vomiting and diarrhoea is going around a busy Sunshine Coast state school.

Parents at Maleny State School were sent a letter from the Sunshine Coast Public Health Unit on July 26 advising a number of staff and students had been affected.

One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said almost half her daughter's class had been home sick on July 26.

The letter from the school also advised the number of cases of gastro in the wider community had also increased.

Gastroenteritis is described as a "general term for an illness of the digestive system".

Symptoms include abdominal cramps, diarrhoea and vomiting.

It can be caused by viruses, including rotovirus and norovirus, bacteria, such as salmonella or parasites such as gardia.

A child showing symptoms of gastro must "remain away from school or social-gatherings until they are symptom free for at least 24 hours".

Adults should not return to work until diarrhoea has ceased.

Most gasto infections are resolved without treatment. It is important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

Everything you need to know about gastro:

Gasto usually spreads when hands, food, objects and surfaces become contaminated with faeces or vomit and the infectious organism is transferred to the mouth when eating, drinking or touch the mouth.

Some of the viruses may be airborne.

The time from contact with the bacteria or the virus and the development of symptoms is usually one to three days. Parasitic infections take about five to 15 days.

People with gastro are very infectious while they are feeling unwell and can continue to be infections days or weeks after they have recovered.

Hand washing and good hygiene practices are essential to prevent the spread of gastro.

Hands must be washed with soap and water for at least 15 seconds and dried thoroughly on a disposable or clean town before handling food anteater going to the toilet.

Gloves should be warn if cleaning up spills.

Spills should be mopped up using disposable paper towels or rags, sealed in a plastic bag and then thrown away in the rubbish bin.

Good cleaning with hot water and detergent is sufficient to clean up after most gastroenteritis spills.

Cleaning up is very important. Poor cleaning will spread the virus and increase the risk of infection.