Gastro closes Dungog Hospital

Dungog Hospital was closed for the majority of last week after an outbreak of gastroenteritis.

The hospital was not accepting new admissions or transferring patients during the outbreak.

However, as of Friday, they are again accepting new admissions with Lower Hunter cluster manager Yvonne Patricks saying infection control measures put in place at the hospital had been successful.

“As a precaution Dungog Hospital temporarily stopped accepting new admissions or transferred patients to stop the spread of the illness,” Ms Patricks said.

“We are now confident the illness has been contained and it is safe for us to accept new patients again.

“The emergency department continues to be open for anyone needing urgent medical attention.”

Public Health Physician Dr David Durrheim said the while the outbreak at Dungog Hospital has been contained it remains important for people to continue to take precautions to prevent contracting the illness.

“Winter is the peak season for gastro and we are already seeing an increased number of cases of gastro in the community,” Dr Durrheim said.

Dr Durrheim said there are two things people can do to reduce the spread of gastro: take care with hand washing and stay home while they recover.

“The best way to avoid viral gastroenteritis is by washing your hands thoroughly with soap and running water before handling and eating food. It is also important to always wash your hands after using the toilet,” he said.

“Alcohol-based hand gel is an effective alternative if soap and water are not readily available.”

The symptoms of viral gastro can include vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and loss of appetite which can make a person lose more fluid than they can keep down.

Symptoms usually last between one and three days but can persist for longer. The symptoms may also lead to dehydration which needs to be treated immediately.

Signs of dehydration include passing less urine than usual, increased thirst and dry mouth, sunken eyes, tiredness, irritability and deep breathing.

“It’s important to remember that babies can become dehydrated very quickly with gastro. A baby less than six months old who has gastro should be taken to a GP or local emergency department immediately,” Dr Durrheim said.

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