With summer comes the increased risk of contracting the bugs that cause diarrhoea and/or vomiting. This infection can be bacterial; however viral infections are more common among babies and more often than not accompanied by dehydration and lots of soiled nappies, nappy rash and unhappiness in both parents and baby.
This summer, Western Cape Government Health is extending a heads-up to parents, care givers and teachers: The best way to avoid diarrhoea is through proper preparation – and we’ll tell you how!
If your environment were made up of circles, with your food preparation and the inside of your home being the ‘golden centre’ then circle two is the immediate space around your home. Circle three would be your neighbourhood and Circle four the places we work, go to school and play. The secret to preventing infections such Diarrhoea is grow your golden circle. If we all ensure that we keep all the places that we visit daily as hygienic as we do our golden circle, we will be able to prevent many infections!
Diarrhoea is spread by flies, they move around our gardens and homes, settling on any nasty item such as animal faeces, from where they fly into our homes, onto our children or food, spreading germs as they move. Flies love smelly, bloody things. Open dustbins and discarded meat or fish packaging and dirty nappies are favourite stopovers for flies.
To keep our golden circle illness free, we must first keep the inside of our homes clean. Even if we do not have running water in our homes, there are a few ways we can prevent flies and ensure a clean environment. Pour clean water into an empty spray bottle, add a small amount of bleach, use this as a surface cleaner – spray onto surfaces and wipe off with a clean cloth. Once you have finished doing the dishes, cover them with a clean cloth to prevent flies from sitting on them. Discard any rubbish such as bloodied packaging and soiled disposable nappies into a plastic bag and place into a bin that has a lid. If you use cloth nappies for your baby, remember to use a bucket with a tight-fitting lid for soaking.
The second circle is the area around your home, make sure that there is no animal faeces or other waste, such as pools of dirty water etc. which attract flies, use a rake or a broom to keep the area around your home clean.
Circle three is made up of our neighbourhoods, if all of us undertake to keeping communal areas such as mobile toilets and the area in front of our homes clean our environments will not only smell nice but will look cared for too.
Circle four contains the areas such as schools, places of work, public spaces such as libraries and transports. Here it is vital that we always wash our hands once we get home to our golden circle before touching anything in our own homes. We should help to keep public areas germ free by not littering, using public bathrooms respectfully, and making sure that our schools and crèches have soap and toilet paper in the bathrooms.
“Western Cape Government Health is concerned about the number of children and babies that are looked after in informal or unregistered crèches, where there is no or little access to clean running water. To address these concerns, the Department has developed a water bag which can hold 20 litres of water and can hang against a wall or fence, for the dispensing of water for hand and bottle washing.” Says Minister Mbombo
The bags will be distributed via community care workers to at-risk unregistered crèches. (See Photo)
It is however a fact that even with all these measures, a child or family member may contract diarrhoea. Be prepared by making sure that you do the following:
Clean an empty 1 l bottle; allow it to stand upside down so that it dries thoroughly. Mix 8 teaspoons of sugar to half a teaspoon of salt. Pour into the bottle. Seal tightly and store until needed. By mixing the salt and sugar, before you need the solution, not only will you prevent others from using it, but you will have it at hand when someone in your home especially the baby, develops diarrhoea. Should this happen you need only add 1l of clean cool water, to the sugar/salt mix. This mixture prevents dehydration. Keep giving small sips of the mixture, even if you are on your way to the clinic.
You can make this mixture as required, but you must have, sugar, salt a clean bottle and clean water available all the time. These are basic household items, however being prepared helps us prevent deaths due to diarrhoea.
Diarrhoeal season commences in October and runs through to the end of May.
- Diarrhoea is highly contagious and is especially dangerous to babies and children under 5 years of age, if left untreated.
- Babies and children who have a compromised immune system, i.e. those who have HIV or TB, are malnourished and underweight, need to get help as quickly as possible, and should be taken to their closest clinic or emergency centre.
- Moms, who breast feed, should continue to feed their babies, and seek treatment at their closest clinic.
- Babies and children who are fully immunised, eat healthily and are looked after in a clean, caring environment have stronger immune systems and are automatically healthy.
The nurses at the clinic are able to help you with all your health questions, remember to prepare for diarrhoeal season, by growing your golden circle and ensuring that you have the ingredients for the re-hydration solution available at all times.
During the summer of 2014/15 73,544 children under 5 years were treated at clinics (Primary Healthcare Facilities) of these 40,742 (55.4%) were diagnosed with diarrhoea, 31,790 (43.2%) were diagnosed with pneumonia and 1,011 (1.4%) were diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition.
A total of 15,633 children were admitted to hospital. 43.3% of the admissions were for diarrhoea, 50.1% of the children were admitted for pneumonia and 6.6% were admitted for severe acute malnutrition.
Sadly, a total of 80 deaths were reported of which 17 were due to diarrhoea, 42 were due to pneumonia and 21 were due to severe acute malnutrition.