NSW Drought 2019: Gastro could be side affect of drought

Gastro could be rife this summer. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK.
Gastro could be rife this summer. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK.

The drought and lack of water is increasing the chance of you catching the dreaded tummy bug this summer.

Improperly treated water, roof collected rain water, tank water and bird poo could see more bacteria floating around water sources according to Charles Sturt University Microbiologist Thiru Vanniasinkam.

"Extreme weather events such as drought and flood can cause an increase in waterborne/foodborne infections, such as gastro," she said.

Scientists who have done research recommended watching out of recycled or improperly treated water during dry times.

"When there is less water, producers of food crops may be recycling water, which if improperly treated can be an issue, there is also an issue of potential contamination of food crops with surface run off which can happen when soils is dry during a drought and rain does not penetrate the soil," Dr Vanniasinkam said.

"Any of this water could potentially contaminate fruit or vegetables which is consumed raw could potentially be a health risk."

Other places people should be wary of water is home tanks capturing rain water, especially from the roof of the house.

Any of this water could potentially contaminate fruit or vegetables which is consumed raw could potentially be a health risk.

Dr Vanniasinkam.

"During a drought when there may be some rain communities collecting rainwater in tanks may find an increase of in the number of bacteria in that water, in warmer months if there are sources of nutrition in the water, the bacteria may also multiple in the tank water," Dr Vanniasinkam said.

NSW Health have warned people to play it safe when it comes to germs and bacteria.

"The best way to reduce your chances of getting viral gastroenteritis is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water for at least 10 seconds before handing and eating food and always wash your hands after using the toilet," NSW Health director of Health Protection Dr Jeremy McAnulty said.

"It is vital if you or your family contract gastroenteritis that you should stay home from work or keep a child home from school if they're sick. [Infected people] should not visit hospitals or aged care facilities to avoid spreading the virus in vulnerable settings."

Symptoms of gastroenteritis include

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle ache

If you are subject to these symptoms the Western LHD recommends people do not prepare food for others until at least 48 hours after they have completely recovered and then double check they practice good hygiene.

Infected people should also monitor their hydration levels and rest well, if they have concerns they should visit their general practitioner, according to Dr McAnulty.