A gastroenteritis outbreak in the Western Bay has seen an
influx of people seeking medical treatment at Tauranga
Hospital emergency department.
The ED has dealt with 100 gastroenteritis cases since
Christmas Eve, clinical director Derek Sage said.
Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and
intestines from bacterial toxins or viral infection, often
resulting in vomiting and diarrhoea.
About 10 per cent of people, mostly elderly, required
intravenous fluids due to dehydration and 1 per cent, mostly
children, were admitted to hospital.
However, most cases that arrived in the emergency department
did not require hospital-level care and could have been
managed by a GP or after-hours primary care, Dr Sage said.
Despite the hospital's infection control measures,
gastroenteritis sufferers represented a potential infection
threat to the hospital and the staff, so it was ideal to keep
such cases out of the ED unless they were dehydrated and
needing intravenous fluids, he said.
Bethlehem Pharmacy's Mark Arundel said while there were
plenty of people seeking help for gastroenteritis problems
over the New Year period, there had only been a couple this
"If anything, our perception is that it's moving through."
Mr Arundel said children and the elderly were most vulnerable
to dehydration from gastroenteritis and needed to seek
medical help quickly.
If people were sick for longer than two to three days, they
should visit their doctor to ensure they did not have a more
serious or reportable illness like giardia or salmonella
poisoning, he said.
Mr Arundel said typical fix-it remedies such as drinking a
glass of flat lemonade actually did more damage than good
because it overloaded the person's already fatigued system
with sugar, which caused further dehydration.
He recommended sachets that were specifically designed to
replace fluids and electrolytes when diluted with water.
"The important message for people is if they do get sick,
stay away from other people, hand washing is key, and
"The most common causes of gastroenteritis cases are actually
from fecal bacteria, from poor hygiene. In other areas,
gastroenteritis can be spread by coughing and touching.
"These things seem to be a bit more violent than when we were
kids, when they were 24-hour bugs. Now they seem to be 72
A 24-year-old Mount Maunganui woman who still has the bug
after 11 days said she initially thought it was heat stroke
because it started with a fever and cold sweats. But then
painful stomach cramps, diarrhoea and vomiting kicked in.
"It got so bad that I was waking up four to five times a
night, having to rush to the toilet," she said.
Her only relief was lying in a fetal position. She was unable
to eat or drink for three days and the illness ruined her
out-of-town New Year celebrations because she spent most of
her days in bed.
"The doctor said there was a bug spreading around at the
moment. I was prescribed painkillers and medication to ease
my stomach cramps."
The woman said her flatmate was suffering the same symptoms.
A Toi Te Ora Public Health Service spokeswoman said they had
received notifications of gastroenteritis and said if people
were concerned, to contact their GP or call the Healthline
number 0800 611 116.
However, if there were a cluster of people who had become ill
after an event or gathering, they were asked to contact the
Public Health Protection officer on 0800 221 555 and choose
option 7 in case of potential norovirus or salmonella