What are the reporting requirements for an outbreak of gastroenteritis?
In addition to obligations under the Australian Aged Care Act 1997, aged care facilities in NSW are required to notify gastroenteritis in an institution among people of any age, and food borne illness in two or more related cases, to their local Public Health Unit (PHU). Notifying NSW Health of such an outbreak is obligatory for Chief Executive Officers of hospitals, aged care facilities and other institutions (or their delegates) and medical practitioners. Notification of Diseases is under the NSW Public Health Act 2010, Information Bulletin IB2013_010.
See Contact details for Public Health Units.
What is the Gastro Info Kit?
To assist aged care facilities in the event of an outbreak of gastroenteritis, the Australian Department of Health and Ageing has developed the Gastro Info Kit. The Gastro Info Kit is available at Gastro-Info - Outbreak Coordinator's Handbook.
Accompanying information sheets, signage etc. are available at Gastro Info Kit Information Sheets.
And a recognising and managing gastroenteritis poster is available at Gastro Info Kit Information Sheet 1 - Recognising and Managing Gastroenteritis.
The Gastro Info Kit is not intended to supersede requirements under relevant legislation or to replace specific State or Territory guidelines.
In addition, the NSW Gastro Pack for hospitals and aged care facilities contains resources and factsheets to assist aged care facilities identify, prevent and control suspected or confirmed outbreaks of gastroenteritis.
Who needs to read it and be familiar with the Gastro Info Kit?
Health care workers and management staff members of your aged care facility, and in particular infection control professionals, should have access to and read the information provided in the Gastro Info Kit. This will help to ensure early identification and response to gastroenteritis outbreaks and can mean fewer people (patients and staff) with gastroenteritis in your facility.
When will you need to use it?
The Gastro Info Kit will be of use in the event of a gastroenteritis outbreak in your facility. NSW Health defines a suspected outbreak as two or more people with sudden onset of vomiting or diarrhoea at the one time in any institution. “At one time” means that at least one person within an institution develops vomiting or diarrhoea within an incubation period of when at least one other person at the institution was infectious with vomiting or diarrhoea. This includes situations where patients are received from another facility/agent.
How can the Public Health Unit help and what is their role?
Public Health Unit staff have expertise in managing infectious disease outbreaks. Your local PHU can assist by providing advice and support in the management and control of an outbreak of gastroenteritis in a hospital or aged care facility. PHU staff can also provide advice on the most likely cause of the outbreak.
What other resources will you need?
The Gastro Info Kit advises to use a tracking or line listing form as part of the outbreak investigation. A printable version of the line list, as well and poster resources, are available in the NSW Gastro Pack for hospitals and aged care facilities. If preferred, an electronic (excel) version of the line listing is also available.
Further factsheets are resources are summarised on the viral gastroenteritis information page.
For further information please call your
local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055.