HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. -- Doctors across the Tampa Bay Area are seeing a dramatic increase in reported stomach bugs.
Several Centra Care locations have reported an increase in patients treated for the condition and in half of their clinics, the cases are especially high for children.
- Carrollwood - up 100% (kids)
- Citrus Park - up 100%
- Temple Terrace - up 100% (kids)
- Wesley Chapel - up 150%
The discomfort brought on by intestinal infections can be caused by a number of things. And some of the causes can be quite sneaky, doctors at Centra Care said.
Dirty Surfaces: Common surfaces, particularly in the kitchen, can harbor a lot of tummy trouble-causing germs. Even though it’s common practice to frequently clean kitchen countertops, other surfaces may not get the same diligent attention. Think of it - how often do we clean the refrigerator? With the constant opening and closing of the fridge, it’s not as often as we should.
Pro Tip: A good rule of thumb is to give your fridge a little TLC on a weekly basis. This includes cleaning spills & sticky spots on the shelves, clearing out the crisper drawers and discarding spoiled items, and wiping down the door and handle.
Damp Towels: Speaking of the kitchen, those towels that hang by the sink are a germ catchall, too. Wiping our wet hands on the cloth towel and leaving it damp creates the perfect home for germs to grow and flourish.
Pro Tip: Make sure you hang your towels so they dry out after each use. Then, separate your towels based on their intended use. So use a towel strictly for drying hands, one for handling food, and another for cleaning countertops. Be sure to switch out those towels often.
Pools, Hot Tubs: Recreational Water Illnesses can be one of the sneakiest causes of intestinal infections. A pool, hot tub, or splash pad can look clean but potential illnesses can be lurking just under the surface. Especially since some germs can survive for days even in the most properly chlorinated pools.
Pro Tip: Remind little ones not to swallow water or allow water to go up their noses. Stay out of the water if you or your little one have recently experienced diarrhea. Finally, take little ones on bathroom breaks every hour and rinse off before entering the pool.
What You Ate: Eating or drinking contaminated food is one of the most common causes of intestinal infections. It can be food that was not handled properly, not cooked all the way through or being served spoiled/rotten food.
Pro Tip: When preparing food, wash your hands throughout the entire cooking process. However, when eating out, be vigilant of the cleanliness of the restaurant.
Young children, older adults and those with compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable to the condition, doctors say. However, group settings like classrooms, workspaces or dorms make it easy for intestinal infections to spread.
If someone in your household is experiencing symptoms that include: vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, muscle aches or headache, and a fever - then be sure to follow the steps needed to prevent the condition from spreading:
- Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face
- Make sure each person in your household use separate personal items
- Avoid sharing eating utensils, glasses and plates
- Disinfect commonly used surfaces often