Health officials detect cause of diarrhea outbreak

Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health Dr. David Johnson said health officials have identified the cause of a gastroenteritis outbreak on the island.

Several Dominicans have been hospitalized with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea.

Health officials have been vigorously trying to trace the cause of the problem after ruling out food poisoning and water contamination.

Dr. Johnson associated the outbreak with Norovirus which rouses vomiting and diarrhea. According to Wikipedia, Norovirus formerly Norwalk agent is an RNA virus (taxonomic family Caliciviridae) which causes approximately 90% of epidemic non-bacterial outbreaks of gastroenteritis around the world, and may be responsible for 50% of all food-borne outbreaks of gastroenteritis in the US. Norovirus affects people of all ages. The viruses are transmitted by faecally contaminated food or water and by person-to-person contact.

Johnson said Dominica experienced a similar outbreak several years ago by the same virus.

He told a press conference on Friday at the Ministry of Health Conference Room that the situation is still being monitored.

“At the moment it seemed to have picked up about a week ago. We are still seeing high numbers and we are continuing to advise the public to continue to take precaution. Regular and proper hand washing, food storage and hygienic practices when using the bathroom,” he said.

The Chief Medical Officer has asked that special attention be placed on children.

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  1. WH
    February 22, 2010

    At what point does acknowledgment of a viral outbreak that is increasing in frequency become an advisory for government such as Canada to issue a recommendation for peoples not to travel to that destination which would be the only way a tour might allow travellers to back out of their reservation?

  2. lola
    February 18, 2010

    hey i work in a hospital in the uk, and that virus has been closing our wards, the wards are now being deep cleaned and redecorated to try and get rid of it, this is becominig like swine flu i think,,,,,,,, and it is also airborn.

  3. only
    February 16, 2010

    And what lab did they use to confirm that it was the Norovirus?

    All it takes is one infected child that doesn’t wash their hands after using the bathroom to contaminate everything and everyone that they come in contact with.
    Considering that most of the cases were in children under 5, this is most probably the case.

  4. CI
    February 16, 2010

    Unfortunately, diarrhea outbreaks are quite common worldwide and can only be prevented or lessened, by taking aggressive measures, such as, frequent and proper hand washing, as well as proper handling and preparation of food. Food handlers, for example, must be extremely careful during this carnival season because so many people depend on the food and drink which is being served by their various stalls. Most often, the food is uncovered and, in some cases not properly refrigerated. For many people like myself, who suffer from the effect of very weak stomachs, being careful with the various foods we eat can help alleviate occurrences of mild or severe diarrhea. Thanks to Dr. Johnson and the others for notifying the public and asking them to use wise judgment, by practicing good hygiene and limiting face to face contact in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

    Hopefully this outbreak will disappear swiftly before too many people, especially school children, are affected.

  5. Prophet2
    February 16, 2010

    Norwalk often breaks out on cruise ships.

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