Advice for people in Hawke’s Bay about gastro illness

News article

19 August 2016

Boil water notice removed 3 September 2016

The boil water notice has been removed. Havelock North tap water is now safe to drink without boiling.

The Hastings water supplying Havelock North will remain chlorinated until further notice.

A large number of Havelock North residents are suffering from gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and vomiting) associated with contamination of the water supply.

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board and the Hastings District Council have put out a public health warning, which they are updating with the latest information. People in Havelock North are advised to boil water used for drinking, cleaning teeth and food preparation until further notice.

The likely cause of most infections is campylobacter. Campylobacter is one of a number of waterborne illnesses that can spread if there is faecal contamination in water. These diseases tend to have similar symptoms, and most people can be cared for at home.

People who feel unwell can call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for free advice from trained registered nurses.

Video: Hawke’s Bay DHB response to gastro bug

Havelock North Gastro Outbreak from HBDHB Media Channel.

What is campylobacter?

Campylobacter are a group of germs (bacteria) that are a common cause of food poisoning but can also be found in water. Campylobacter usually begins with:

  • diarrhoea (may be blood stained)
  • stomach pain and cramps (may be severe)
  • influenza-like symptoms such as headache, muscle pains, fever and fatigue.

Symptoms can last for up to 10 days but people will usually get better without antibiotics.

Find out more about campylobacter on the HealthEd website.

Hand washing is important

Waterborne illnesses can’t be spread through the air but they can spread through contaminated water and food, or from contact with infected people, so hand washing is extremely important.

Wash your hands thoroughly by using plenty of soap, cleaning under fingernails, rinsing hands well and drying on a clean towel:

  • before and after preparing food
  • after going to the toilet or changing a baby’s nappy
  • after caring for people who are sick.

Dehydration

Children and older people are most at risk of dehydration and drinking fluids is very important. You will need to boil your tap water. See our advice below on boiling drinking water.

Signs of dehydration include:

  • little or no urine passed in the last 8 hours and the urine is dark and smelly
  • reduced saliva in their mouth, no tears, sunken eyes, sunken fontanelle in infants
  • dizziness, lethargy (no energy), floppiness, a rapid heart rate and breathing, cool hands and feet or grey cold skin
  • their skin doesn’t relax after being pinched.

Call Healthline 0800 611 116 or seek advice from a doctor if you want more information about the signs of dehydration.

Boil water before consuming it

Until otherwise advised, people in Havelock North should boil all water for drinking, making up infant formula, food preparation and cleaning teeth.

How to boil water

Electric jugs with a cut-off switch can be used as long as they are full – allow the water to come to the boil and wait for it to switch off. Do not hold the switch down to increase the boiling time.

Water can also be placed a clean metal pan and brought to a rolling boil for one minute.

Boiled water should be covered and allowed to cool in the same container. The taste will improve if allowed to stand.

Find out more about using water when a boil water notice is in place from the Boil Water Advisory Fact Sheet (PDF, 268 KB) from Hawke’s Bay District Health Board.

Keeping up to date

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board and Hastings District Council are keeping people up to date about the current outbreak. For the latest updates go to the:

Call Healthline 24/7

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for free advice from our trained registered nurses. Healthline is here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Phone calls are free from within New Zealand – this includes calls from a mobile phone.

Other support

Havelock North Gastroenteritis Outbreak: What support is available and where can I get help? (PDF, 86 KB)
This factsheet contains information about help (including financial assistance) you and your family may qualify for if you’ve been affected by the August 2016 Havelock North gastroenteritis outbreak.

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