Focus on the Land
Bug closes Y Kids
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
A GISBORNE early childhood centre is closed following an outbreak of diarrhoea and vomiting affecting 35 children.
The YMCA’s Y Kids centre in Roebuck Road made the call for a 48-hour voluntary closure while Tairawhiti District Health protection officers investigate the cause of the stomach bug.
TDH medical officer of health Geoff Cramp could not officially confirm but suspected the cause was rotavirus or possibly norovirus. Both have similar symptoms and cases have been reported in the community.
Two Gisborne retirement facilities were affected by a similar gastro-bug outbreak last month, confirmed as norovirus, and there have been other isolated cases of both viruses in the district.
The TDH public health team was first informed of the outbreak on Monday afternoon.
“Over the past three weeks the infection has spread from person to person in the early childhood centre and has now affected 60 percent of the children,” said Dr Cramp. “Some of the staff have been unwell with the illness too.”
Y Kids is expected to re-open on Friday morning. The closure will ensure staff can arrange to thoroughly disinfect all surfaces.
“They plan to steam-clean the carpets and renew some of the toys and soft furnishings where the virus could be lurking,” said Dr Cramp.
YMCA Gisborne’s other early childhood centre in Kaiti and two home-based services are not affected, and are operating as usual this week.
The latest outbreak highlighted the need for children or adults who are unwell, particularly with diarrhoea and vomiting, to remain away from work, school or early childhood education centres for two days after their symptoms have stopped, said Dr Cramp.
Rotavirus is spread by droplets of diarrhoea in the air, on surfaces or on poorly-washed hands.
“Rotavirus causes vomiting and watery diarrhoea, and sometimes a fever. In young children and infants this can often lead to them becoming dehydrated. This sometimes means they have to go to hospital.
“The key to preventing this illness is by very strict hand hygiene and to clean surfaces that may harbour the virus . . . things like door handles. Good ventilation of toilets and rooms where people are gathered is also important.
“We have had a lot of these illnesses in our community recently and it’s very hard for parents when an early childhood education centre is forced to close.
“The only way to stop outbreaks like this happening is for parents to make sure children do not attend when they are ill and for centres to make sure that everything is cleaned extremely thoroughly, for the rooms to be well ventilated and for everyone to wash their hands regularly.”
YMCA Gisborne chief executive Leigh Gibson said arrangements had been made to have the centre thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to ensure no traces of the airborne virus remained on any surfaces.
“We recognise this is an inconvenience for parents but it is about the wellbeing of the children,” she said.
“It is a big call to close the centre and will financially impact on us.
“In the long run this voluntary closure means the children coming back to the service will be healthy and non-infectious.”
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