Gastro-Info - Outbreak Coordinator's Handbook

A resource kit to assist residential aged care facilities in the event of a gastroenteritis outbreak.

Page last updated: 24 June 2013

You may download this document in PDF format:

PDF printable version of Gastro-Info - Outbreak Coordinator's Handbook (PDF 528 KB)

The Gastro-Info Kit is not a set of guidelines to manage an outbreak of gastroenteritis – it is a resource kit to assist residential aged care facilities in the event of a gastroenteritis outbreak.

In addition to their obligations under the Aged Care Act 1997, all residential aged care facilities are required to meet State and Territory public health legislation. This includes on-going responsibilities for reporting and management of infectious diseases. Some States and Territories have prepared detailed guidelines on management of outbreaks of gastroenteritis, and these should be used.

The Gastro Info Kit is not intended to supersede requirements under relevant legislation or to replace specific State or Territory guidelines.

Acknowledgement

A number of resources were used in the preparation of the Gastro Info Kit. Of particular importance were the Infection control guidelines for the prevention of transmission of infectious diseases in the health care setting (Commonwealth Government, 2004), the gastroenteritis management guidelines prepared by State and Territory health authorities within Australia and infection control resources of the World Health Organization.

How to use the Gastro Info Kit

The Gastro Info Kit is intended to assist aged care facilities in preventing, identifying and managing outbreaks of gastroenteritis.

Users of this Gastro Kit should also be aware that:

    • All facilities must ensure that they meet their State or Territory legislation in reporting and managing outbreaks. This includes following State or Territory guidelines. This Kit does not replace State and Territory guidelines.
    • Good infection control, particularly good hand hygiene, is central to preventing outbreaks and to reducing the size and length of an outbreak.
    • All facilities should have an Outbreak Coordinator, who can direct a response as soon as an outbreak is suspected. This person should have good knowledge of infection control practices and if possible should be nominated before an outbreak happens.
    • All facilities should make efforts to have Outbreak Management Plans for gastroenteritis, as well as other infections such as influenza, in place – before an outbreak happens.

The Gastro Info Kit includes the following:

1. Outbreak Coordinator Handbook. This is designed to help the Coordinator respond to an outbreak. The Handbook includes the main steps in identifying and responding to an outbreak, information on gastroenteritis and a range of resources to assist the Coordinator in his or her role. Included are:
    • Outbreak Management Checklist
    • Outbreak Flowchart
    • Outbreak Identification
    • Preventing further spread
    • Additional outbreak measures
    • Specimen collection
    • Food handling during an outbreak
    • Key contacts
    • Outbreak Management Plan
    • Gastroenteritis Preparedness Kit
    • Resident/Staff Tracking Form
    • Outbreak Management Plan template
2. Information and resource sheets for staff including information on gastroenteritis, notices, hygiene posters. Included are:
  • Outbreak Flowchart poster
  • Hand hygiene notices
  • Notices to visitors
  • Notices to staff
3. Information for residents and visitors – including information on gastroenteritis and posters and information on how the home may manage an outbreak and how visitors can assist. Included are:
  • Outbreak notice for residents, families & visitors
  • Hand washing notices
  • Information brochure - Managing infectious diseases
The Director of Nursing, Care Coordinator or Senior Nurse and the Outbreak Coordinator should be familiar with the Gastro Info Kit and its contents prior to an outbreak.
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Gastro Outbreak Management Checklist

The Gastro Outbreak Coordinator should ensure the following steps are initiated as soon as possible and completed.

The order in which the tasks are undertaken may vary slightly. The Checklist can be used in conjunction with the Flowchart below.

Do we have an outbreak?

(Refer Pages 5-6 of Outbreak Handbook)

ie. 2 or more people ill with vomiting or diarrhoea within 24 hours of each other.
  • Activate your Gastro Management Plan by following the steps listed below
  • Inform Senior Nursing Staff on duty
  • Access Gastro outbreak stores

Inform staff, residents & visitors

(See Info Sheets 2 & 3)
  • Inform all staff that a possible outbreak is occurring
  • Advise of increased hygiene measures
  • Inform residents & visitors – notices on doors; provide information on gastro

Implement additional infection control measures

(Refer Pages 7-10 of Outbreak Handbook & Info Sheets 4-9)
  • Increase hygiene measures taken by all staff – standard hygiene plus additional measures
  • Ensure supplies of liquid soap, paper towels & alcohol-based gel or hand rub
  • Ensure supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) – masks, gloves, gowns
  • Contact residents’ GPs
  • Isolate residents – separate infected & uninfected residents where possible
  • Place home in lock down if necessary

Restrict staff and resident movement

  • Allocate care staff for residents ill with gastro
  • Allocate staff for cleaning of affected areas
  • Suspend group activities until outbreak resolved
  • Exclude staff with symptoms of gastro for at least 48 hours after last symptoms

Restrict contact

(See Info Sheets 7-9)
  • Notify residents’ relatives or representative, all visiting GPs, allied health workers, laundry contractors, volunteers, or anyone in contact with your facility
  • Consider cohorting affected residents
  • Restrict visitors, particularly young children & people with compromised immune systems, eg. people with HIV, major illness and those taking immunosuppressant drugs such as steroids
  • Restrict movement of visitors within the home
  • Ensure visitors practice hand hygiene
  • Exclude visitors with symptoms of gastro for at least 48 hours after last symptoms

Ensure safe food handling

(See Info Sheet 10)
  • Ensure catering staff are separate from cleaning and care staff
  • Ensure food areas & equipment thoroughly cleaned (eg blenders)

Document the outbreak

List cases – up-date daily:
  • Details of residents & staff with symptoms
  • Onset date of gastro symptoms for each

Notify authorities

(Refer Contact Pages 13-14 of Outbreak Handbook)
  • Your State/Territory Population Health Dept
  • Your State/Territory office of Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing

Collect Specimens

(Refer Page 12 of Outbreak Handbook)
  • Observe standard infection control practices & wear personal protective equipment, eg. gloves, gown, mask
  • Collect faecal or vomit specimens in specimen jars (faecal specimens preferable)
  • Label specimens & complete pathology request form
  • Store specimens in refrigerator – not in a food fridge! – until collected by pathology lab.

On-going review of clinical management plans

  • Review plans regularly particularly for at risk and vulnerable residents

Update Gastro Outbreak Plan

(Refer Pages 15-18 of Outbreak Handbook)
  • Revisit Outbreak Plan following resolution of current outbreak – modify as needed
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Recognising and Managing Gastroenteritis


Gastroenteritis suspected?

  • a gastroenteritis outbreak is defined as 2 or more cases of vomiting or diarrhoea over a 24 hr period
  • Inform your Senior Nursing staff on duty

Nominate an Outbreak Coordinator

Name:
Phone:
Pager:

Implement infection control precautions immediately

  • Seek advice of an expert in infection control – internal or external (your PHU may be able to advise)
  • Increase hygiene measures: especially hand hygiene & environmental cleaning
  • Isolate infected residents if possible
  • Notify families and other residents

Restrict contact and prevent spread

  • Strict hygiene measures, eg. hand hygiene, PPE
  • Isolate or cohort residents if possible
  • Limit staff and visitor movement into restricted area
  • Infected staff off work
  • Suspend all group activities

Notify

  • Your state/territory Population Health Dept
  • Your state/territory office of Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing
  • Resident’s GP, all staff, all visiting GPs, allied health workers, volunteers, or anyone in contact with your facility

Collect specimens

  • Observe standard infection control practices and wear personal protective equipment, eg. gloves, gown, mask
  • Collect faecal or vomit specimens in specimen jars (faecal specimens preferable)
  • Label specimens & complete pathology request form
  • Store specimens in refrigerator – not in a food fridge! – until collected by pathology lab.

Document

List cases – up-date daily:
  • Details of residents, staff with symptoms
  • Onset date of symptoms of gastroenteritis for each
  • Their contacts – to identify “at risk” groups

Complete your legislative requirements

  • Refer to your State/Territory public health legislation for your on-going responsibilities and reporting requirements for the duration of the outbreak
Wash and dry hands before & after contact with affected residents

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Do you think your facility is experiencing a gastroenteritis outbreak?

Outbreaks of gastroenteritis are notifiable in most states and territories. Refer to your local Health Department guidelines for reporting and management procedures.
(Australian State/Territory notifiable communicable diseases ICG*A2-3)

Definition

  • An outbreak of gastroenteritis is where 2 or more people in a facility become ill with vomiting or diarrhoea within 24 hours of each other.

Signs & symptoms

Gastroenteritis in aged care facility residents usually occurs as a result of an infection and has the following symptoms:
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • General weakness
NB: Residents may not experience all of the above signs and symptoms.

Gastroenteritis outbreaks are common in settings where people are in close contact, including residential aged care facilities.

Elderly people are particularly susceptible to the more severe complications of gastroenteritis. There are many causes of infectious gastroenteritis, including contact with other infected persons, eating contaminated foods, and antibiotic associated diarrhoea.

Elderly residents may also have symptoms that can mimic gastroenteritis which are due to chronic bowel disease or problems or certain medicines, but are not the result of an infection. These non-infectious illnesses do not usually occur in several residents at the same time.

Types of gastroenteritis

There are several different types of infectious agents that can affect residents. The microbial cause of a person's illness usually cannot be identified from their symptoms. Most causes of gastroenteritis result in vomiting or diarrhoea. However, the features of an outbreak can give some clues to the possible cause and particularly what proportion of people vomit. The most common causes of outbreaks in residents are listed below in order of their commonness:
  • Viral gastroenteritis—noroviruses and rotaviruses that are spread from one infected person to another. Norovirus is the most common cause of outbreaks in aged care homes. Norovirus outbreaks can be recognised in that: of those affected, 50% will vomit, illness usually lasts less than 2 days, and staff becoming affected. Viral outbreaks usually last longer than a week. Where a facility is affected by an outbreak of suspected viral gastroenteritis the main focus should be on enhancing infection control.
  • Bacterial gastroenteritis— gastroenteritis in residents may also be due to several different bacteria, such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and Shiga toxin producing E. coli (STEC). Bacterial gastroenteritis is usually more severe and may be caused by contaminated food served to residents. Outbreaks of bacterial gastroenteritis may be recognised in that: of those affected, 10-50% of people vomit and illness usually lasts longer than two days. Bacterial outbreaks may last for up to two weeks. Sometimes people may experience blood in their faeces. If bacterial gastroenteritis is suspected then the main focus should be on a search for potential food sources, and should be discussed with your State/Territory Public Health Unit or Health Department urgently.
  • Toxin producing bacteria—some bacteria, such as Clostridium perfringens or Staphylococcus aureus, produce toxins that cause gastroenteritis in residents. Toxin-associated gastroenteritis is usually of short duration and may be caused by contaminated food served to residents. Outbreaks of toxin-associated gastroenteritis may be recognised in that: most people have diarrhoea and less than 15% of people vomit, and illness usually lasts less than 24 hours. Toxin-based outbreaks are usually over within a couple of days. If toxin-associated gastroenteritis is suspected then the main focus should be on a search for potential food sources, and should be discussed with your State/Territory Public Health Unit or Health Department urgently.
  • Antibiotic-associated diarrhoea—gastroenteritis in residents may also be due to bacteria that cause diarrhoea in people who have recently received antibiotics. Antibiotics can alter the bacteria normally found in the gut and allow bacteria, such as Clostridium difficile, to grow and produce toxin. Outbreaks of antibiotic associated diarrhoea cannot be distinguished from other causes of gastroenteritis based on symptoms alone, and can only be diagnosed after specific testing at a pathology laboratory. As with all cases of gastroenteritis, monitoring of hydration is important.
* Infection control guidelines for the prevention of transmission of infectious diseases in the health care setting.

Transmission

Viral gastroenteritis is highly infectious and can be transmitted from person to person. Gastroenteritis can also be transmitted from contaminated food and water. Where infected elderly residents are transferred to hospitals or other facilities without advising them that the person has gastroenteritis, they can cause outbreaks in those other facilities. Similarly, cleaners and laundry workers may be at risk when they clean environments and laundry contaminated with faeces or vomit, and should take extra precautions.

Actions required

1. Decide if your facility has an outbreak of gastroenteritis.
2. Appoint an Outbreak Management Coordinator.
3. Increase hygiene measures (see pages 7-10 of this handbook).
4. Notify your State/Territory Department of Health's Public Health Unit.
5. Notify your State/Territory office of the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing.

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Prevention of further spread of gastroenteritis in residential aged care facilities

The most important key to prevention is hand hygiene.

A key role of the Outbreak Coordinator is to ensure all staff use standard hand hygiene practices.
  • Gastroenteritis is commonly caused by viral infections and less frequently by foodborne infections, which are usually due to bacteria.
  • Foodborne infection is prevented by careful food hygiene and preparation. As residential aged care facilities are expected to comply with any State or Territory food safety standards as a minimum standard practice at all times, the management should check with their relevant State or Territory legislation surrounding food safety.
  • The most important key to prevention and further spread of infection is good hand hygiene, ie. washing hands with liquid soap and water or rubbing them with alcohol based gel or hand rub.

Standard hygiene precautions – should be used at all times

  • Hand hygiene must be performed in all situations below regardless of whether gloves are used or not. NB: staff must wash their hands before applying gloves and after removing gloves as the removal process can cause more contamination resulting in further infections.

1 Before Resident Contact

When? Clean your hands before touching a resident.
Why? To protect the resident against harmful organisms carried on your hands.

2 Before Aseptic Task

When? Clean your hands immediately before any aseptic task and before donning gloves.
Why? To protect the resident against harmful organisms, including the resident's own organisms, entering his or her body.

3 After Body Fluid Exposure

When? Clean your hands immediately after an exposure risk to body fluids and after glove removal.
Why? To protect yourself and the care environment from harmful organisms.

4 After Resident Contact

When? Clean your hands after touching a resident and his or her immediate surroundings, when leaving.
Why? To protect yourself and the care environment from harmful organisms.

5 After Contact with Resident Surroundings

When? Clean your hands after touching any object or furniture in the resident's immediate surroundings, when leaving – even without touching the resident.
Why? To protect yourself and the care environment from harmful organisms.
(Adapted from World Health Organization's '5 moments of hand hygiene')

For hand hygiene to be effective, the following should NOT be present –

    • Skin with cracks, cuts or dermatitis – cover all cuts or abrasions
    • Hand and arm jewellery
    • Nails
      • longer than 3-4mm
      • with chipped or worn polish
      • artificial nails or nail enhancements

Actions required

1. Ensure staff comply with standard hygiene procedures.
2. Discuss hygiene measures with your State/Territory Department of Health’s Public Health Unit.
3. Consider cohorting (grouping together in a single room) or isolating residents who have gastroenteritis symptoms.
4. Talk with family, friends and visitors about the need for attention to handwashing to assist in infection control in your facility.
5. Implement additional infection control procedures (see pages 9-10).

Additional measures in an outbreak

Successful outbreak management is based on a range of good hygiene practices.

Consult an infection control specialist as required.
  • Outbreak management measures are designed to limit the spread of the infection both within the facility and out into the community.
  • There is no specific treatment for infectious gastroenteritis, however the early implementation of infection control procedures may limit the spread of infection and reduce resident illness and mortality.
  • Residents with antibiotic associated diarrhoea should cease treatment with the offending antibiotic following consultation with the resident’s clinician.
  • If food is suspected as the cause of the outbreak, the focus must be on managing the safety of the food supply for all residents at all stages of the meal preparation. Consider offering small amounts of fluids or small ice blocks frequently, or discuss with the resident’s clinician the use of subcutaneous fluid replacement.
  • In elderly people, the most common complication of gastroenteritis is dehydration, so maintaining adequate or increasing fluid intake is essential.
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Actions Required

1. Reinforce hand hygiene

  • Ensure there are adequate supplies of liquid soap at wash basins and alcohol-based gel or hand rub in areas of high resident contact, as well as instructions as to how to wash hands effectively or use the alcohol-based gel or rub.
  • Alcohol-based gel or hand rub should not be used when hands are visibly soiled.
  • Ensure staff follow correct hand hygiene practices.
  • Residents should be encouraged to wash their hands or use alcohol hand rub just prior to eating or assisting with setting the table.
  • Request that visitors practice hand hygiene.

2. Isolate residents who are infected

  • In individual rooms, multi-bed rooms, unit or wing.
NB: If an appropriate single room is not available, room sharing (cohorting) by residents with the same infection is acceptable.
  • Allocate separate toilet for infected residents.
  • Dedicated staffing where possible/practicable and minimise staff movement between affected and unaffected residents.
  • Dedicated equipment, including separate linen bags.
  • Appropriate signage.
  • Transfer to hospital if condition warrants – advise receiving institution of the outbreak in the aged care facility.

3. Instruct staff with symptoms of gastroenteritis to

  • Go off work immediately.
  • Remain off work until at least 48 hours after their last episode of symptoms.
  • Not work in any other facility until at least 48 hours after their last symptoms.

4. Restrict contact

  • Between affected and unaffected residents for at least 48 hours after resolution of symptoms.
  • Minimise communal gatherings of unaffected residents, eg shared meal & lounge areas.
  • If the outbreak is continuing to spread throughout the facility, then closing all communal areas may need to be considered, with residents receiving meals in their own rooms.
  • Exclude all non-essential staff - exclude from resident contact for the duration of the outbreak.
  • Restrict visitors - warn them of risks.
  • Place restriction notices at entrance to facility, isolation rooms, kitchen and in staff areas.

4. Increase personal protective measures

  • Maintain existing hand hygiene before and after contact with each resident.
  • Wear gloves if contact with faeces, vomit or potentially contaminated surfaces is likely.
  • Wear gloves, gowns/plastic aprons when cleaning the rooms of infected residents and remove them before leaving the room.
  • Change gloves and wash hands after contact with each resident.
  • Wear masks when cleaning areas visibly contaminated with faeces or vomit.
NB: Hand hygiene must be performed thoroughly after removing gloves, mask and gown.

5. Environment

  • Clean resident environments thoroughly with a neutral detergent and hot water prior to using diluted bleach. This is critical to preventing the spread of gastroenteritis.
  • Increase the frequency of cleaning.
  • Clean thoroughly with detergent and hot water, followed by disinfection with 1000ppm (0.1%) bleach solution – see product label for original strength of bleach, such as Sodium hypochlorite. Pay particular attention to bathrooms and toilets, and to frequently touched areas, eg door handles, taps, light switches, etc. used by affected residents.
  • Bleach deteriorates over time –it is most effective when freshly prepared/diluted.
  • Use separate cleaning cloths and mop heads for cleaning toilets and bathrooms or soiled areas – discard cloths or launder in hot water with detergent.
  • Leave toilet brush in a holder to dry.
NB: Staff assigned to cleaning duties should not have access to the kitchen during an outbreak of gastroenteritis.

6. Isolation room checklist

  • Hand-wash basin in room (hands-free operation if possible).
  • Alcohol-based hand rub if hand washing facilities are not readily available.
  • Single-use towelling.
  • Ensuite bathroom (shower, toilet, hand-wash basin).
  • Minimum one metre separation between beds in multi-bed rooms.
  • Suitable container/s for safe disposal of infective material, tissues, gloves, masks, towelling, etc.
  • Room restriction signs.

7. Food handling – refer to Food handling during an outbreak of gastroenteritis, Pg 11


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Food handling during an outbreak of gastroenteritis

Organisms causing gastroenteritis can be transmitted in different ways, including the ingestion of contaminated food or drink.
  • Residential aged care facilities are expected to comply with their relevant State and Territory food safety standards as a minimum standard practice at all times, and to notify their local Public Health Unit immediately an outbreak of gastroenteritis is recognised.
  • An environmental investigation for food or waterborne sources is a specialised task and should be carried out with Public Health Unit staff or under their guidance.
  • When an outbreak is in progress, additional food handling precautions must be employed.

Additional food handling precautions

  • All food handling staff must comply with strict hand washing procedures.
  • It is imperative that kitchen staff should not work while ill.
  • Restrict kitchen access to only kitchen staff who have been symptom free for 48 hrs.
  • Restrict kitchen staff from delivering food to affected residents.
  • Staff who care for affected residents or who clean the environment of affected residents must not prepare food or assist unaffected residents to eat.
  • Ensure cleaning and food preparation activities are done by separate teams.
  • Sanitise communal dining areas after each use with bleach using single-use cleaning cloths.
  • Staff should not consume food within immediate areas where care of affected residents occurs.
NB: Perform hand hygiene before and after preparing food, and after personal toileting.

Cleaning

  • Outside the kitchen, clean vomit from eating utensils, using gloves and paper towels. Soak contaminated utensils in a bleach solution outside the kitchen.
  • Pay particular attention to the thorough cleaning of blenders/vitamisers between preparation of food for each resident – take blenders apart to ensure removal of food particles from rubber seals, blades, etc.
  • Keep samples of leftover food – they can be useful in the micro investigation of possible foodborne gastroenteritis. Place in sealed and labelled containers and ensure no contact with other food.
  • Wash, rinse and sanitise all utensils, crockery, cutlery and glassware in a commercial grade dishwasher, by immersing all food contact surfaces in water that is at least 82C for two minutes.
  • Wash work benches, appliances, equipment and floors with 1000ppm (0.1%) bleach solution (such as Sodium hypochlorite) – see product label for original strength of bleach.
  • Use disposable, single-use cleaning cloths, not washable cloths, rags and towels.

Actions Required

1. Implement additional food handling precautions
2. Implement thorough cleaning procedures
3. Keep aside samples of leftover food for testing

Specimen collection

Immediate collection of specimens is essential for early identification of the causative organism – either viral or bacterial.
  • It is important to contact your local Health Department for advice regarding what tests you should request for specimens collected. The Health Department may also advise you on which laboratory to use to assist with their surveillance.
  • As a general rule, laboratory requests should include microscopy, culture and sensitivity, and viral testing including norovirus.
    • Your local Health Department may have a Specimen Tracking Form for recording all pathology tests. If not, the Outbreak Coordinator should create a Specimen Tracking Form and record all pathology tests requested. The Form should include resident/staff names, specimen date, type of tests requested, test results, etc.
  • Specimens should be collected from as many ill residents or staff members as possible.
  • Specific testing for causative organisms should be requested by the treating clinician. If Clostridium difficile is suspected as the cause of diarrhoea then a test for this bacteria must be specifically mentioned on the pathology request form.

Suggested methods of collecting faecal specimens

  • Using a pan.
  • Placing a disposable plastic container inside the toilet before use by the resident.
  • Using a disposable spatula to collect faecal matter from incontinence pads.

When collecting specimens

  • Observe standard infection control precautions and wear personal protective equipment.
  • Collect specimens in sterile specimen jars.
  • Do not allow disinfectant to come into contact with the specimen.

After collection

  • Specimens should be refrigerated at 4C in a fridge that does not contain any food items to prevent possible transmission. Specimens must not be frozen as freezing may destroy the pathogen. If a fridge is unavailable a chilled esky can be used.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with liquid soap and water.
  • Transportation of the specimen should be completed as soon as possible after collection.
  • During transportation specimens must be sealed and the container placed in a waterproof bag and transported on ice in an esky or a refrigerated container.
  • Mark each specimen as URGENT and clearly label the request form with the following details: Resident details, address, date and time of collection, brief description of the outbreak, what tests are required, and “Outbreak investigation” clearly written on the request form.
  • Request a copy of results to be sent to your relevant State/Territory Health Department, as well as the requesting medical officer within your establishment.

Specimen tracking

  • Update your Specimen Tracking Form as results of pathology tests become known.

Actions Required

1. Contact your local Health Department
2. Collect specimens
3. Transport specimens to laboratory and ensure follow up procedures are in place
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Contacts

Who to contact for assistance with and notification of a suspected outbreak of gastroenteritis.

Disclaimer: Updated contact details supersedes contact details contained within both the downloadable and the hard copy kit.

Queensland

Southern Population Health Unit Network

ContactPhoneFax
Brisbane SouthsidePh: (07) 3000 9148Fax: (07) 3000 9121
Gold CoastPh: (07) 5509 7222Fax: (07) 5528 1681
Darling DownsPh: (07) 4631 9888Fax: (07) 4639 4722
LoganPh: (07) 3412 2989Fax: (07) 3412 2999
West MoretonPh: (07) 3413 1200Fax: (07)3413 1201

Central Population Health Unit Network

ContactPhoneFax
Brisbane NorthsidePh: (07) 3624 1111Fax: (07) 3624 1159
Moreton BayPh: (07) 3142 1800Fax: (07) 3142 1824
Sunshine CoastPh: (07) 5409 6600Fax: (07) 5443 5488
Wide BayPh: (07) 4184 1800Fax: (07) 4120 6009
RockhamptonPh: (07) 4920 6989Fax: (07) 4920 6865
BundabergPh: (07) 4150 2780Fax: (07) 4150 2729
LongreachPh: (07) 4652 6000Fax: (07) 4652 6099

Tropical Population Health Unit Network

ContactPhoneFax
MackayPh: (07) 4968 6611Fax: (07) 4885 6610
TownsvilleQueensland contact detailsPh: (07) 4753 9000Fax: (07) 4753 9001
Mt IsaPh: (07) 4744 9100Fax: (07) 4745 4573
CairnsPh: (07) 4226 5555Fax: (07) 4031 1440

New South Wales

Greater Southern AHS Centre for Population Health

ContactPhone/FaxAfter Hours
Goulburn OfficePh: 02 4824 1840
Fax: 02 4824 1831/4822 5038
A/Hrs: 02 6080 8900 (diverts to Albury Base Hospital) - Ask for Public Health Officer on call
Albury OfficePh: 02 6080 8900
Fax: 02 6080 8999
A/Hrs: 02 6080 8900 (diverts to Albury Base Hospital) - Ask for Public Health Officer on call
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Greater Western AHS Centre for Population Health

ContactPhone/FaxAfter Hours
Broken Hill OfficePh: 08 8080 1499
Fax: 08 8080 1683 / 1196
A/Hrs: 08 8080 1333 (Broken Hill Base Hospital)
- Ask for Public Health Officer on call
Dubbo OfficePh: 02 6841 5569
Fax: 02 6841 5571
A/Hrs: 02 6885 8666 (Dubbo Base Hospital)
- Ask for Public Health Officer on call
Bathurst OfficePh: 02 6339 5601
Fax: 02 6339 5173
A/Hrs: mob. 0428 400 526
- Ask for Public Health Officer on call

Hunter / New England AHS, Hunter Population Health

ContactPhone/FaxAfter Hours
Newcastle OfficePh: 02 4924 6477
Fax: 02 4924 6490/4922 3164
A/Hrs: 02 4924 6477 (diverts to John Hunter Hospital) - Ask for Public Health Officer on call
Tamworth OfficePh: 02 6767 8000
Fax: 02 6766 3890
A/Hrs: 02 6764 8000 (diverts to Tamworth Base Hospital) - Ask for Public Health Officer on call

North Coast AHS Public Health Unit

ContactPhone/FaxAfter Hours
Port Macquarie OfficePh: 02 6588 2750
Fax: 02 6588 2837
A/Hrs: mob. 04017 244 966 or 0407 904 208
- Ask for Public Health Officer on call
Lismore officePh: 02 6620 7500
Fax: 02 6622 2151 or
02 6620 2552
A/Hrs: 132222 Pager no: 397635.
If no answer, mob: 0417 244 966 or 0407 904 208
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Northern Sydney / Central Coast AHS Public Health Unit

ContactPhone/FaxAfter Hours
Hornsby OfficePh: 02 9477 9400
Fax: 02 9482 1650 / 1358
A/Hrs: 02 9477 9123 (Hornsby Hospital)
- Ask for Public Health Officer on call)
Gosford OfficePh: 02 4349 4845
Fax: 02 4349 4850
A/Hrs: 02 4320 2111 (Gosford Hospital)
- Ask for Public Health Officer on call)

South Eastern Sydney / Illawarra AHS Public Health Unit

ContactPhone/FaxAfter Hours
Randwick OfficePh: 02 9382 8333
Fax: 02 9382 8334 / 8314
A/Hrs: 02 9382 2222 (Prince of Wales Hospital)
- Ask for Public Health Officer on call
Wollongong OfficePh: 02 4221 6700
Fax: 02 4221 6722 / 6759
A/Hrs: 02 4222 5000 (Wollongong Hospital)
- Ask for Public Health Officer on call

Sydney South West AHS Public Health Unit

ContactPhone/FaxAfter Hours
Eastern Zone
(Camperdown Office)

For Liverpool Area, call the Camperdown Office
Ph: 02 9515 9420
Fax: 02 9515 9440 / 9467
A/Hrs: 02 9515 6111 (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital) - Ask for Public Health Officer on call

Sydney West AHS Centre for Population Health

ContactPhone/FaxAfter Hours
Penrith OfficePh: 02 4734 2022
Fax: 02 4734 3300 / 3444
A/Hrs: 02 9845 5555 (Westmead Hospital)
- Ask for Public Health Officer on call
Parramatta OfficePh: 02 9840 3603
Fax: 02 9840 3608 / 3591
A/Hrs: 02 9845 5555 (Westmead Hospital)
- Ask for Public Health Officer on call)

Victoria

ContactPhone
Communicable Disease Prevention and Control UnitPh: 1300 651 160

Tasmania

ContactPhone
Public and Environmental Health ServicePh: 1800 671 738 – Free call

South Australia

ContactPhoneFax
Communicable Diseases Control BranchPh: 08 8226 7177Fax: 08 8226 7187

Western Australia

Metropolitan (Perth) Population Health Units

ContactPhoneFax
North MetropolitanPh: 08 9380 7700Fax: 08 9380 7736
South MetropolitanPh: 08 9431 0200Fax: 08 9431 0223

Regional Population Health Units

ContactPhoneFax
Kimberley - BroomePh: 08 9194 1630Fax: 08 9194 1633
Pilbara – South HedlandPh: 08 9158 9222Fax: 08 9158 9253
Midwest - GeraldtonPh: 08 9956 1985Fax: 08 9956 1991
Gascoyne - CarnarvonPh: 08 9941 0515 or
08 9941 0519
Fax: 08 9941 0520
Goldfields - KalgoorliePh: 08 9080 8200Fax: 08 9080 8201
Wheatbelt - NorthamPh: 08 9622 4320Fax: 08 9622 4342
Southwest - BunburyPh: 08 9781 2350Fax: 08 9781 2382
Great Southern - AlbanyPh: 08 9842 7525Fax: 08 9842 7534
After hours: (Statewide Communicable Disease Control on-call) Ph: 08 9328 0553

Northern Territory

Centre for Disease Control

ContactPhone
DarwinPh: (08) 8922 8044
Alice SpringsPh: (08) 8951 7540
KatherinePh: (08) 8973 9049
Tennant CreekPh: (08) 8962 4259
NhulunbuyPh: (08) 8997 0357

Australian Capital Territory

ContactPhoneFax.
Communicable Diseases ControlPh: (02) 6205 2155Fax: (02) 6205 0711
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Preparing for outbreaks: Outbreak Management Plan

The best way to prepare for possible outbreaks of gastroenteritis and other infectious diseases is to compile a simple Outbreak Management Plan and ensure there is a small stockpile of stores.
(Outbreak Stores – refer Gastroenteritis Preparedness Kit, Pg16)

Key features of an Outbreak Management Plan

1. Preparedness

  • Be alert to a possible gastroenteritis outbreak – advise staff to report all cases of vomiting or diarrhoea so that cases can be monitored and an outbreak identified as early as possible.
  • An outbreak of gastroenteritis is where 2 or more people in a facility become ill with vomiting or diarrhoea within 24 hours of each other.

2. Reporting an outbreak – maintain documents for all streams of reporting, including:

  • Facility management.
  • Outbreak Coordinator.
  • Notify your local Department of Health Population Health Unit (PHU) and Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing office in your State or Territory.
  • Inform residents, relatives and visitors.
  • Update the PHU daily on the status of the outbreak and any new cases.
  • Transfer of a resident to a hospital or another facility.
  • Inform all staff, including cleaners, laundry and kitchen staff, personal care attendants.
  • Notify visiting GPs and allied health care workers, contractors (espec. laundry).

3. Responding to an outbreak

  • Nominate an Outbreak Coordinator – provide with Checklist.
  • Hold an Outbreak Management Team meeting – confirm roles and responsibilities.
  • Confirm the cause of the outbreak – review clinical features of the outbreak with the medical practitioner and PHU; collect faecal specimens from as many affected residents as possible – refer to your Specimen Tracking Form.
  • Ask for advice – consult an infection control specialist; advise PHU immediately if food is suspected as the cause.
  • Implement infection control to prevent further spread – minimise group activities; isolate or cohort infected residents; dismiss ill staff until 48 hours after their symptoms have resolved – refer to Pg 9, Additional measures in an outbreak.
  • Modify infection control based on cause of outbreak.
  • Document staff and resident illness daily – refer to Resident/Staff Outbreak Tracking Form.

4. When an outbreak is declared over

  • Complete a Summary Report and retain outbreak records at the facility.
  • Evaluate your facility's response to and management of the outbreak – what could have been done better?

Gastroenteritis Preparedness Kit

This Preparedness Kit should be assembled by the Outbreak Coordinator in preparation for any gastroenteritis outbreaks.

The items listed in this Kit will be essential during an outbreak of Gastroenteritis.

NB: It is important to monitor the expiry dates of some items.
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Prevent spread

Adequate supplies of Personal Protective Equipment, including:
  • Dust/mist masks
  • Gloves
  • Aprons
  • Protective eyewear
  • Disposable toilet pans
  • Gowns
  • Extra liquid soap and alcohol-based hand gel/rub

Extra supplies of cleaning equipment, including:

  • Alcohol wipes (min.70%)
  • Bleach (NB: check expiry date)
  • Detergents
  • Containers for disposing items, separate linen bags
  • Paper towels
  • Variety of single-use cloths, colour coded for separate tasks

Resources for the outbreak Coordinator

  • Gastro Info Kit
  • State/Territory supplied gastroenteritis resources
  • Outbreak Management Plan

Notification details and legislation

  • List of notifiable parties and
  • GP contact list relevant contact details
  • Legislation listing notifiable parties for your jurisdiction
  • Forms required for notification

Documentation - Templates for recording information, including:

  • Listing of symptomatic residents or staff - updated daily (e.g. onset time, complications, contacts)
  • Photocopies of the relevant hand outs from the Gastro Info Kit, including Information and Resource Sheets and poster
  • Copy of Outbreak Management Plan
  • Details of groups at risk
  • Specimen Tracking Form

Collect specimens

  • Specimen jars and labels
  • Disposable spatulas
  • Pathology request forms
  • Water proof bags
  • Designated specimen esky

External resources

It may be appropriate to store instructions within the Preparedness Kit for the location of certain items that are not suited for storage in the Kit. For example:
  • Designated specimen refrigerator
  • Infection control guidelines
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You can download the following pages in pdf format:
Outbreak Management Plan Template and Responding to an outbreak (PDF 57 KB)
Example Resident/Staff Outbreak Tracking Form (PDF 61 KB)

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