Don’t let gastro get you

This year, Monaco and the surrounding regions have been hit hard by the highly infectious bug that causes gastroenteritis, more commonly known simply as “gastro”. Here’s how to protect yourself and loved ones from catching it.

Gastro is nothing new to these parts, but this winter, the strain that is affecting the region is particularly virulent. Symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting and/or diarrhoea, loss of appetite and fatigue. Needless to say, you know it when you have it.

Though sometimes a bacterial infection, it is more likely to be caused by a virus that can survive on surfaces from eight hours up to a week. Once caught, the sufferer is extremely contagious for three days.

To avoid contracting this disease in the first place, and to avoid the spread of it, health care professionals recommend regular hand washing, particularly after using the toilet, before and after handling food, after using public transport and before being in contact with small children.

Anti-bacterial gels are not sufficient, as they do not eradicate all the germs, but used in conjunction with hand washing are a good tool to help prevent the spread of the virus.

If possible, avoid places where the virus is likely to be easily spread.

If you are one of the unlucky recipients of gastro, rest and adequate rehydration are the keys to a fast recovery. Small and frequent doses of water a teaspoon at a time to decrease the risk of vomiting are advised. Once feeling better, food in small quantities should also be reintroduced. Broth, crackers, rice and pasta are good bets, while dairy and fibre-filled options such as fruits and vegetables should be avoided.  

The worst of the bug should last no longer than one to three days, though it sometimes lingers a bit longer. Children and the elderly are at most risk, so be vigilant when coming into contact with them, taking added precautions to ensure they do not get sick.