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Communicable Diseases

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Submitted By mwolken365
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Gastroenteritis in Saint Louis, Missouri
Megan O’Heron
HCS/457
Lindsay Coogan

Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, maybe even a fever, and you might think you have the stomach flu. As modern medicine has progressed we have come to find that no such thing exists. A common occurrence caused by viral or bacterial infections, gastroenteritis sweeps through communities giving these symptoms to individuals and being dubbed the stomach flu. Saint Louis, Missouri is no different and had its worst breakout of this particular communicable disease back in 2013. The local health department continues to raise awareness of the prevention measures and what the community can do moving forward. Gastroenteritis is a communicable disease that affects the gastro-intestinal tract. It causes inflammation within the intestines that can causes symptoms like watery – usually non-bloody – diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, occasional muscle aches and headaches, and low-grade fevers (Mayo Clinic, 2015). “Depending on the cause, viral gastroenteritis symptoms may appear within one to three days after you’re infected and can range from mild to severe. Symptoms usually last just a day or two, but occasionally they may persist as long as ten days” (2015). You are most likely to contract viral gastroenteritis when you eat or drink contaminated food or water, or if you share utensils, towels or food with someone who is infected. A number of virus can cause gastroenteritis, such as: norovirus and rotavirus. Norovirus can affect both children and adults sweeping through whole families and then communities. “Rotavirus is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in children, who are infected when they put their fingers or other objects contaminated with the virus into their mouths” (2015). Adults can become infected passing along the illness without ever getting symptoms, asymptomatic carrier. This can be extremely dangerous for those who have inhibited immune systems in the community because they will be infected by those carrying the disease without eve r knowing. In order to prevent and control the disease, individuals should always wash their hands. It is our first defense towards any kind of germs or contaminates in the world. Because children are so susceptible to rotavirus, getting them vaccinated against is important. Using personal items around the home is extremely important. “Avoid sharing eating utensils, glasses, and plates. Use separate towels in the bathroom” (2015). In general, it is a good rule to keep distance between individuals. You never know what another person might have or if they have washed their hands recently. Always disinfect hard surfaces as often as possible. Make sure your child’s day care center is maintaining proper cleaning procedures as they should be. These general precautions should always be maintained both in the home and outside it in order to keep you and your family safe. The community was advised of all of these precautions in 2013 when an outbreak of the norovirus swept through Saint Louis, MO (Barnes Jewish, 2013). Each year different diseases can sweep through an area affecting its people differently. In 2013, it was Saint Louis’ year to skip the Flu season thankfully but it was hit hard with gastroenteritis. The particular strain of norovirus that came through Saint Louis that year was a new strain that the CDC had not seen to date making it particularly hard to get rid of for local doctors and the health department. It was being spread from person-to-person as well as surface contact. This was new and had not been seen before then. All hands were being used to make sure disinfection procedures were being used in offices across town to make sure patient’s weren’t being re-infected from previous patients since so many were coming in to be seen for dehydration. According to Barnes Jewish (2013), “It is particularly dangerous because humans have no immunity to it and it is highly contagious.” Community programs have been developed in order to help them gain access to healthcare and information in situations that they otherwise would not have been able. Lifestyle influences such as socioeconomic status can have an effect in this communicable disease since it can be a major cause with how a person becomes infected. If they have not had the ability to be educated due to their status in life, then they may not understand the need for hand washing. Thus becoming infected could be a recurring problem. If it is a recurring problem, dehydration could set in causing an onslaught of other issues; hospitalization the least of the worries. Saint Louis, MO the local health departments will educate the community before this becomes an issue. Each person that comes in is given samples of Germ-x before they leave (STL Health Dept, 2015). They are taught how to use it and how it works.

References
Mayo clinic. (2015). Viral gastroenteritis. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/viral-gastroenteritis/basics/complications/con-20019350
New strain of norovirus hits saint louis. (2013). Retrieved from http://barnesjewishblog.org/norovirus/
Saint Louis Health Department. (2015). Health education. Retrieved from https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/health/health-promotions/index.cfm

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