Although an outbreak of gastroenteritis has not been declared, cases have continued to increase over the past two weeks as confirmed by Belau National Hospital. Bureau of Public Health advises everyone to take preventive measures against the spread of the infection. [restrict[

Gastroenteritis symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and also nausea, fever, and stomach ache. If any of these symptoms are experienced, Public health urges people to make sure to keep hydrated and to seek medical attention.

Preventive measures include proper and frequent hand-washing as well as proper food handling and consumption to prevent the infection. Keeping kitchen and bathroom areas and surfaces clean also prevents the risk of spreading infection.

In order to avoid food poisoning, especially when consuming bentos and prepackaged food, keep the following in mind – labels, ingredients, appearance of food and its packaging. Prepackaged foods should have clear labels indicating the time and date the food was prepared. If the food was prepared early in the morning it should not be eaten at the end of the day, after the food has sat out for a long period of time.

Food containing mayonnaise, eggs or meat should be eaten within three hours after preparation. Additionally, examine and smell the food before you consume it. If the food looks to be off-colored or has developed an unusual smell, do not eat it. Also check its packaging. The package should completely cover the food and should not show any signs of damage. If there are holes in the package or if it looks like it has already been opened, avoid it.

For more information on how to prevent gastroenteritis, contact the Division of Environmental Health at 488-6073 or the Communicable Disease Unit (CDU) at 488-2450. [/restrict[