What is Acute Gastroenteritis?

  • Acute gastroenteritis is a sudden occurrence of multiple cases of vomiting (at least one time within 24 hours) and diarrhea (3 or more loose stools) amongst individuals at a school or early childcare facility.
  • Acute Gastroenteritis refers to a syndrome and not a specific disease-causing agent. Viruses tend to be the most common causes of gastro-intestinal illness in schools and early childcare settings, but bacteria and parasites can also cause diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and running water and taking other hygiene measures can help protect you and your loved ones from infection.

Is this a reportable illness?

  • Groups of 4 or more cases within a cohort within a 24-hour period should be reported illness to CDPH.  Specific disease-causing agents may have additional reporting requirements; in some cases, a diagnosis will be needed by a medical provider. 

What does the school need to do next?

  • Sick Person
    • Cases need to be excluded until diarrhea has ceased for 24 hours (stools contained in the diaper or when toilet-trained children are continent and when stool frequency becomes no more than two stools above that child’s normal baseline for the time the child is in the program, even if the stools remain loose) and may not handle shared food for 48 hours after recovery.
  • No action for close contacts.
  • No special cleaning required but encourage good diapering practices
    • Separate diaper-changing areas from play and food preparation areas.
    • Ensure children wear clothing over their diapers to prevent the spread of germs.
    • Wash hands (both yours and the child’s) after each diaper change.
    • For more information, see Diaper-Changing Steps for Childcare Settings.