More than 165 children have been admitted to hospitals in the Eden district for treatment for diarrhoea since the start of the diarrhoea season in November 2014 until 15 January 2015. Dehydration caused by diarrhoea is one of the highest causes of death in early childhood. Making sure your family washes their hands between activities is the most effective way to prevent diarrhoea. The Diarrhoea Season (DDS), which has changed to the Paediatric Surge Season (PSS) to include malnutrition and pneumonia in children, runs from November until May.
Western Cape Government Health has recorded a remarkable decrease in diarrhoeal disease hospital deaths in children under 5 years old since the introduction of their hand-washing campaign. Through regular hand washing we can have a healthier society. Infection control is of paramount importance and the public should be aware of the advantages of regular hand washing. Hand washing as a regular hygiene routine can play a significant role in the prevention of disease and in the Western Cape’s goal of reaching the Millennium Development Goals, since 80% of germs are spread from our hands.
Even if your home does not have running water, keep a plastic cooldrink bottle filled with water handy, so that you can rinse your hands with clean water after washing them. Wash toys, feeding bottles and dummies in hot, soapy water and rinse well. Teething toys must be kept separately and rinsed regularly. Don’t let rubbish lie around or allow children to play in puddles; dirty water spreads disease. Clean up animal waste immediately. If your child has a fever, is vomiting, has a loose stool or blood in their stools, and refuses to eat or drink, they’re probably suffering from diarrhoea.
If your child gets diarrhoea, check them for these signs of dehydration:
- Dry or sticky mouth
- Few or no tears when crying
- Lack of urine, or only a very small amount of dark yellow urine
- Dry, cool skin
- Tiredness and irritability
- Headache and stomach ache
Mix 8 teaspoons of sugar + ½ a teaspoon of salt in 1 litre of water, and get your child to take regular sips. If their condition doesn’t improve, take them to your nearest clinic. Don’t wait in the queue; go straight to the receptionist for immediate attention.
For more information contact your nearest healthcare facility.