June 13, 2013
Health officials encourage hand washing to stop germs
Canterbury health officials are highlighting the importance of hand washing following recent increases in Hepatitis A cases and reports of stomach bugs circulating in the region.
The warning comes after staff from the Canterbury District Health Board vaccinated 111 people in Ashburton on Wednesday to prevent the potential spread of the Hepatitis A virus. It is the second vaccination clinic held in Ashburton in as many months. In May 60 people were provided with a vaccination and in April more than 150 people associated with a Linwood preschool, in Christchurch, were provided with the vaccination.
Dr Ramon Pink, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, says the vaccination clinic was held after a child from a kindergarten in Ashburton was diagnosed with Hepatitis A.
The preschooler diagnosed with Hepatitis A belongs to an Ashburton family with four confirmed Hepatitis A cases. Another person with close links to this family has been confirmed as having Hepatitis A, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to five.
“Hepatitis A is transmitted by not washing your hands properly after using the toilet, which makes hand washing key to preventing the spread of viruses and other bugs. Preschools can be a high risk environment for the spread of Hepatitis A, particularly where there is nappy changing,” Dr Pink says.
Vaccinations were provided to every child who attends the kindergarten, relatives at risk, and staff. Friends who have been in contact with the family were also offered the vaccine.
“It’s so important that people wash and dry their hands thoroughly, particularly after toileting, and before and after eating or preparing food. It only takes a minute but can make a huge difference to your health,” Dr Pink says.