Health department reports increase in GI illness outbreaks

The Ogle County Department of Health (OCDH) reports an increase in gastrointestinal (GI) illness outbreaks and encourages people to take action to prevent the spread of the virus, a Nov. 21 press release said.

OREGON — The Ogle County Department of Health (OCDH) reports an increase in gastrointestinal (GI) illness outbreaks and encourages people to take action to prevent the spread of the virus, a Nov. 21 press release said.

GI illnesses can be highly contagious, spreads quickly from person to person and cannot be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms of GI illnesses include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain that usually last between 24 hours and 48 hours. Anyone with GI illness should stay home when sick and for 24 hours after experiencing vomiting or diarrhea.

Good hygiene practices are important for everyone to prevent the spread of illness. OCDH recommends people take the following steps recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to assist in the prevention and spread of GI viruses:

Frequently wash your hands, especially after using the toilet or changing diapers, before eating and preparing food or before taking or giving someone medicine.

Using hand sanitizers in addition to handwashing can be beneficial but using hand sanitizers should not replace hand washing. Handwashing with soap and water is always preferred over hand sanitizers.

To help make sure that food is safe from viruses, routinely clean and sanitize kitchen utensils, counters and surfaces before preparing food. Additional steps to reduce the spread include:

Rinse fruits and vegetables before eating.

Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them.

Avoid preparing food for others when sick and for at least two days after symptoms stop.

If you are caring for someone with a GI illness, always thoroughly clean and disinfect an area immediately after an episode of vomiting or diarrhea. Wear rubber or disposable gloves and wipe the entire area with paper towels. Use a bleach-based household cleaner to disinfect the area. If using liquid household bleach to disinfect, use a chlorine bleach and water solution. Leave the bleach disinfectant on the affected area for at least five minutes, then clean the entire area again with soap and hot water. Finish by cleaning any soiled laundry, taking out the trash and washing your hands.

Please contact Ogle County Health Department with additional questions or concerns at 815-562-6976.

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