Gastro concerns not over yet - health expert

  • 20/08/2016

A health expert warns Havelock North residents recovering from a gastric illness are not out of the woods yet.

University of Otago public health professor Michael Baker says a lot of people are worried about the long-term symptoms of gastro.

"Obviously at the moment everyone is concerned just to keep people aware that there are some potential long-term effects - but that applies to many infectious diseases," he said.

"They can cause a range of chronic effects depending on the nature of the particular illness."

Dr Baker warns there are risks of contracting septicemia, infections and auto immune disease Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS).

"One syndrome that's very well recognised is GBS. The biggest single cause is campylobacter infection, and we know in New Zealand it causes around 30 percent of cases," he explained.

Dr Baker said GBS tends to come on one to three weeks after acute campylobacter infection, which inflicted more than 4000 people over the last week.

"It produces paralysis and sensory changes - so you get tingling and numbness in your legs and then affecting your arms. It moves centrally."

About 100 cases of GBS are reported in New Zealand every year.