A public health alert has been issued following a spike in gastroenteritis in the NT.
There have been 151 cases of cryptosporidiosis, a parasite that causes gastro, since the start of the year.
It’s an increase of 92 per cent on the average number of cases over the last five years.
NT Health says gastro cases typically increase during the dry season, with interstate and overseas travellers introducing the infection, which is easily spread by consuming contaminated food or water.
It has prompted health authorities to remind Territorians about how to protect themselves.
Good hygiene is important including regular hand washing with warm soapy water, particularly:
· after going to the toilet
· before handling food and immediately after touching raw meat
· after changing dirty nappies or linen
Other prevention measures include:
· cook meat, fish and poultry thoroughly and do not let raw meat contaminate other food
· ensure cutting boards, knives and plates for raw food are kept separate from ready-to-eat-foods
· keep cold food cold (below 5°C) and hot food hot (above 60°C) to discourage bacterial growth
· people with vomiting or diarrhoea should not prepare or handle food that will be eaten by others
· anyone with diarrhoea should not swim in public pools for at least two weeks after it stops
Symptoms of gastro include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps with fever, headaches, loss of appetite, bloating, lethargy and body aches also possible.
When treating gastro it is vital to prevent dehydration, and anyone experiencing vomiting or diarrhoea should increase their fluid intake.
Most gastro will resolve on its own but anyone who has diarrhoea for more than three days, blood in their faeces or has recently returned from overseas should seek medical attention.