More than 100 outbreaks of viral gastroenteritis in Victorian and NSW childcare centres since the start of the year have prompted a Health Department advisory to parents.

There have been 104 outbreaks of the highly infectious virus in centres up until 23 February in Victoria, which far exceeds the five year average of 63 cases. The Victorian Department of Health said most of the current outbreaks have been caused by norovirus, with person-t0-person transmission.

The NSW Government says there’s also been increase in gastro outbreaks in childcare centres. It’s been reported that almost 1,000 children and 200 staff have contracted the virus – a 97 percent increase on the normal number of cases for February.

The Victorian Department of Health has advised that children who are unwell be kept home from childcare, camps or other recreational group activities until at least 48 hours after their symptoms have stopped.

What are the symptoms of gastro?

The main symptoms of viral gastroenteritis include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • fever
  • abdominal pain
  • headache
  • muscle aches.

Symptoms may take up to three days to develop and usually last between one or two days, sometimes longer.

Gastro is highly infectious and is transmitted either from person-to-person or through contaminated objects and food via unwashed hands.

“This usually happens in childcare settings when unwashed hands are placed directly in mouths or touch food or drinks, or indirectly – by touching contaminated surfaces such as taps, toilet flush handles, children’s toys and nappies,” the Department explained. “Airborne droplets may be formed when a person vomits or has diarrhoea. These droplets can also contaminate surfaces with viral particles.”

How can you stop the spread of gastro?

The easiest and best way to combat the spread of gastro is to simply wash your hands with soap and running water for 20 seconds, before and after handling food, after using the toilet, changing nappies or helping someone who has vomiting or diarrhoea.

If your little one does starting vomiting or has diarrhoea, they need to stay home until at least 48 hours after their symptoms stop. And it’s the same advice for childcare staff and anyone who handles food or looks after children and the elderly.

If you’re concerned at all, you’re advised to have a chat with your doctor.


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  • So scary. Kids pick up the smallest of germs! Always hard seeing kids sick


  • So scary. I am dreading that my kids will bring something home…


  • That’s terrible. So hard to stop with little ones.


  • My son’s primary school just sent out a notification this week advising of a few gastro cases. If its not covid, its the common cold/flu and if it aint that, it is the gastro bug. Ugh!


  • . Unfortunately kids tend to “share” everything :( Gastro can also be a symptom of Covid in kids so its always worth doing a RAT as well.


  • Gastro is so debilitating. It’s horrible for little people to have it,


  • Gastro is horrible enough as an adult but the poor little kids always pick it up.


  • Ahh gastro, so easily spread


  • A very scary situation indeed. I feel so much bad is happening in this world, and there is nothing we can do about it. Gastro is not fun.


  • Where I am this was happening all the time, it’s awful when the whole house gets it aswell. Keep your kids home if sick please


  • It’s just common sense to keep your children home when they’re unwell. Hopefully this issue can be sorted out so kids don’t miss out on too much fun


  • The year my daughter went to preschool, we caught seven colds! She only went one day each week and would catch a virus. We’d get over that bug during the week only to catch another virus when she went back to preschool! It was horrible. Gastro is awful. I hope the outbreak is over soon.


  • Sheessshhhh poor kids!! That’s no fun! Though, I swear alot of adults always have gastro…


  • Uh oh. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Gastro is terrible as it’s so contagious and spreads so quickly. And the recovery… it just exhausts you and takes days to build up your tummy, etc. Those poor kids.


  • It is going through centres like wild fire!


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