Gastrointestinal illness cases on the rise in southern Alberta

WATCH ABOVE: Alberta Health Services is reminding parents to be diligent about preventing the spread germs. A gastrointestinal illness is circulating in the south zone and the most vulnerable are the young and old.

LETHBRIDGE – Alberta Health Services is reporting an increase in the number of gastrointestinal illness cases in the south zone, which includes the area South of Calgary, including Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. The increase has prompted a reminder to residents and visitors of important precautions to reduce the spread of illness.

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“We had over 200 cases in the zone that’s kind of triggered us,” said Karin Goodison, AHS medical health officer. “Something is going on and let’s let people know now rather than waiting until the fall when we typically see more of our gastrointestinal illness outbreaks.”

Symptoms can include diarrhea and/or vomiting and may include stomach cramps, muscle aches and low fevers.

These symptoms usually last around 48 to 72 hours and, in most cases, require no special treatment.

However, AHS said this illness can be very dangerous for the very young, the very old, and those with weakened immune systems as there is a risk for dehydration.

“Little ones can get dehydrated quite quickly and it’s harder to tell that they’re getting dehydrated because they can’t tell you they are thirsty,” said Goodison. “Parents can actually, if the kid is diapered, pay attention to how many wet diapers they have.”

To avoid the illness AHS is reminding residents to always wash their hands, and clean bathrooms and other household areas more frequently than normal if someone is ill.

AHS said to stay home from work and school if you are ill, and avoid visiting child care facilities, hospitals and seniors care facilities until the symptoms are gone.

Officials also stressed the importance of staying out of recreational swimming pools up to two weeks after symptoms go away.

AHS said if you or a loved one have symptoms or need more information, to call Health Link anytime at 811.

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