Parents are Advised to Keep Children at Home if They have GI Bugs

Parents, heed this advice: If your child has a stomach virus, do not send them to daycare or school.

The key finding of a recent CDC analysis is that close to 90% of outbreaks of acute gastrointestinal diseases in child care facilities and schools are caused by person-to-person contact.

According to Janine Cory, a CDC spokesman, “Clinicians should recommend parents to keep children out of school for up to 24 hours after symptoms have decreased, as virus shedding may continue after symptoms stop.”

She also urged pediatricians to stress to parents the importance of maintaining good hygiene practises, such as making sure kids stay home from school when they are sick and washing their hands with soap and warm water because most hand sanitizers are ineffective against the germs that are most frequently associated with GI outbreaks in children.

The study, which was released in the journal Pediatrics, was based on an examination of more than 4,600 outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis, or “stomach flu,” between 2009 and 2020 by CDC researchers and their associates.

Between October and March, outbreaks were most common in schools and were typically caused by viral infections. Approximately 86% of all outbreaks in the study had a connection to interpersonal contact. Approximately two thirds of all outbreaks throughout the study period featured shigella or norovirus strains.

The CDC lists diarrhoea, vomiting, and stomach pain as signs of norovirus infection. Shigella’s infection, shigellosis, can result in bloody diarrhoea and stools, high fevers, excruciating stomach cramps, dehydration, and other symptoms.

The majority of outbreaks, which mainly involved viral infections, happened in schools between October and March. In the study, person-to-person contact was a factor in about 86% of all outbreaks. During the study period, shigella or norovirus strains were responsible for almost two-thirds of all outbreaks.

According to the CDC, norovirus infection symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Shigellosis, an infection brought on by shigella, can result in dehydration, high fever, severe stomach cramping, and diarrhoea with blood in them.

During the study period, there were an average of 15,779 cases and 457 outbreaks per year in schools and daycare facilities. (The researchers claim that the COVID-19 pandemic saw a sharp decline in breakouts as parents kept their children home during lockdowns.)

While illness in child care facilities persisted for a longer period of time, breakouts in schools were substantially greater. School outbreaks typically lasted 9 days, while outbreaks in child care facilities often lasted 15 days. According to the study, breakouts were responsible for at least one trip to the ER in 98% of cases.

According to the researchers, the presence of children wearing diapers, poor hand hygiene, and the lower age of the children may cause bacterial outbreaks to spread more quickly in child care facilities.

Pediatrician and internist Tim Joos, MD, says answering inquiries concerning shigellosis and norovirus illnesses is a regular part of his day, especially during the academic year.

“Something going around the day care” is a common remark heard in hospitals and ERs, the author claims.

“As working professionals, we frequently struggle to perceive the bigger picture. We frequently see the demands of each patient individually but not the broad trends. We now have a picture of the gastroenteritis landscape thanks to this study, adds Joos.

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