Stomach bugs linked to lambs, calves

Health authorities are reporting an increase in stomach diseases in the Southland area and are warning farmers to be careful when handling newborn lambs and calves.

Southern District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Marion Poore said most of the gastroenteric diseases noted so far this spring were in relation to farm workers or young children living on farms.

She said the onset of spring could bring an increased risk for those in rural communities.

"Children under 5 years are most at risk of illness, which may be associated with newborn animals.

"Public Health South is seeing an increase in notifications of gastroenteric diseases in Otago-Southland," Dr Poore said.

Since the beginning of August, there had been 10 notifications of salmonella brandenburg compared to only three in the same period last year, and some cases were associated with outbreaks of salmonella on sheep farms.

Last year more than half of the 36 cases of that strain of salmonella notified in New Zealand were in Southland and Otago: 19 (53 per cent) were from Otago and Southland and of these 15 (79 per cent) occurred between September and November.

Cryptosporidium symptoms include profuse diarrhoea and stomach pains that can last for up to two weeks. The illness does not usually require treatment apart from rehydration but careful hygiene is required to prevent spread to others.

"The best way of preventing these infections is with good hand hygiene," Dr Poore said.

People should also wash hands thoroughly after removing dirty clothes or before eating or smoking.

People should not require medical treatment but should drink plenty of water, and stay home from work or school for 48 hours after symptoms have stopped.

The Southland Times