Gastroenteritis outbreaks

Gastroenteritis outbreaks in childcare and aged care settings

Gastroenteritis (or gastro) is a common infection of the stomach and bowel that results in vomiting and/or diarrhoea. It is usually a mild illness and can be caused by a number of different viruses, bacteria and parasites.

Preventing spread of infections

  • In childcare:
    People should be discouraged from attending the premises if they are unwell with any gastroenteritis symptoms. Unwell siblings should also not attend the premises during drop off and pick up. Children, educators or other staff unwell with any gastroenteritis symptoms should be excluded from the childcare centre until there has not been a loose bowel motion or vomit for 24 hours. If the cause is unknown, possible exclusion for 48 hours until the cause is identified.
    Gastroenteritis line list - Child Care Centre
  • In aged care:
    Family and friends who are unwell with any gastroenteritis symptoms, should be reminded that they should not visit an aged care facility. Residents with symptoms will need to be isolated to prevent spreading the infection to other residents in the facility, and unwell staff should be excluded from work until there has not been a loose bowel motion or vomit for 24 hours. If the cause is unknown, possible exclusion for 48 hours until the cause is identified.
    Gastroenteritis line list - Aged Care

Reporting a gastroenteritis outbreak

Under the Public Health Act 1997, both childcare and aged care facilities are required to notify Communicable Disease Control if they have:

  • two or more cases of gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and/or vomiting) among residents and/or staff in a 24 hour period; and
  • three or more cases of ILI** among residents and/or staff in a 72 hour period (see the Winter wellbeing and flu webpage for more information).

To report a gastroenteritis outbreak, please call Health Protection Service, Communicable Disease Control Information Line during business hours on 02 5124 9213. A Public Health Officer will take your details and provide you with public health advice to help limit the spread of the outbreak.

Infection Control

Ensuring appropriate infection control practices are adhered to year round will limit the spread of infectious diseases in both childcare and aged care facilities. Infection control is vital to minimising transmission and controlling outbreaks of gastroenteritis in childcare and aged care facilities.

  • In childcare:
    Effective hand hygiene and, exclusion of ill children and staff. Other infection control measures include the use of personal protective equipment and effective environmental cleaning.
     
  • In aged care:
    Effective hand hygiene, isolation of ill residents and exclusion of ill staff. Other infection control measures include the use of personal protective equipment, visitor restrictions and effective environmental cleaning. To effectively manage a communicable disease outbreak, you may need to implement additional infection control practices, increase the frequency and efficiency of environmental cleaning using appropriate products, and restrict the movement of residents, staff and visitors.

For advice about infection control, you can call the Communicable Disease Control Information Line on 02 5124 9213 and ask for a member of the Infection Control team.

Resources to assist with infection control in a child care or aged care setting

Page last updated on: 14 Nov 2019