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 2 or more related cases, to their local Public Health Unit (PHU). Notifying the NSW Department of Health of such an outbreak is obligatory for Chief Executive Officers (or their delegates) of hospitals and nursing homes and medical practitioners, and is recommended for hostels: NSW Department of Health. Notification of Diseases under the Public Health Act 1991 Policy Directive 2005_359: Notification of Infectious Diseases under the NSW Public Health Act 2010.
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.
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. An outbreak is defined as 2 or more cases of vomiting or diarrhoea over a 24 hour period.
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. They may also be able to provide feedback 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. An Excel version of the line listing is also available.