Havelock North Gastro Outbreak FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions 

Hawke’s Bay health professionals continue to work closely together to care for people affected by gastro illness and its complications. Your family doctor and hospital specialists know what to look out for and are well equipped to quickly identify and manage any gastro recurrence or its complications - in particular Reactive Arthritis and Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

Our public health teams have an enhanced surveillance process in place to monitor and report any emerging issues, and we will keep you up-to-date with this.

The Hawke’s Bay District Health Board (HBDHB) urges people to keep an eye out for people living on their own and older people. Older people, and people with other underlying medical conditions, may have the illness for longer and therefore could have a recurrence of symptoms. 

Anyone who isn’t getting better or is feeling worse should seek medical advice. Free advice is available from Healthline 24/7 on 0800 611 116 or contact your family doctor (GP).


Can secondary infection occur with Campylobacter?

Secondary infections occur via person-to-person transmission.

When there is an outbreak of Campylobacter, secondary infections can occur when faeces (poo) gets into a person’s mouth. For example when you wipe your bottom you can have faeces on your hand, if this is not cleaned properly, it will be transferred to whatever you touch next. If this is food, whoever eats that food can become infected with Campylobacter.


How do I stop secondary infection?

You reduce the number of secondary infections and help prevent spread of Campylobacter by:

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

  • before and after preparing food
  • after going to the toilet or changing a nappy
  • after caring for people with Campylobacter
  • after playing or working with animals


Can I return to work/school after symptoms have ended?

People affected should stay at home for two days (48 hours) once they are free of symptoms (diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting) before returning to school or work. Avoid swimming or bathing in pools for 2 weeks. Follow the 2 week pool rule - no swimming or bathing in pools for 2 weeks after symptoms have ended.


What to look out for if you’ve had Campylobacter

Are there any complications to Campylobacter infection?

Most people who get Campylobacter recover completely within two to five days, although sometimes recovery can take up to 10 days.

Rarely, Campylobacter infection can result in complications. Some people develop Reactive Arthritis. Others may develop a very rare disease called Guillain-Barré syndrome that affects the nerves of the body beginning several weeks after the Campylobacter infection.

How do I know if I have complications from Campylobacter infection?

It is important to monitor how you are feeling for 4 weeks (one month) after recovering from a Campylobacter infection. 

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, please seek a health care professional’s advice immediately.

  • Reactive Arthritis: Joint pain (commonly knees, ankles and toe pain/swelling), signs of a urinary tract infection and/or sore eyes.
  • Guillain-Barré Syndrome: Muscle weakness in legs, arms or face - worsening over the course of the day.

Call Heathline 24/7 free on 0800 611 116, contact your family doctor (GP) or visit after hours services to get a health professional’s advice.

Additional information can be sourced at healthnavigator.org.nz, It is important that complications are identified early.

What if I’m on medication and I’m sick or have diarrhoea?

If you are concerned that your medication may have been affected by this illness, contact your family doctor (GP) or speak to your Pharmacist. 

What if I’m on the contraceptive pill and I’m sick or have diarrhoea?

It depends on how long you’ve been sick or have had diarrhoea for. If you:

  • Are sick (vomit) within two hours of taking your contraceptive pill, it will not have been absorbed by your body. You should take another pill straight away. As long as you’re not sick again, you’re still protected against pregnancy. Take your next pill at the usual time.
  • Continue to be sick or have severe diarrhoea (passing six to eight watery stools in 24 hours), your protection against pregnancy could be affected.
  • Are sick or have severe diarrhoea for more than 24 hours. If you can, you should carry on takingyour pills at the normal time, but you may need to use extra contraception, such as condoms.
  • Continue to be sick for more than 24 hours or you have severe diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, count each day with sickness or diarrhoea as a day that you’ve missed your pill and use the 7 day rule.


The 7 day rule:

  • You will not be safe until you have taken 7 hormone pills in a row.
  • Use another method of contraception such as condoms or do not have sexual intercourse while taking the 7 hormone pills.
  • If during this time a condom breaks or slips off, you will need an emergency contraceptive pill (ECP).
  • If there are less than 7 hormone pills left in the pack, finish the hormone pills and start your new pack immediately (miss the 7 inactive pills or the 7 day break).
  • If you miss one or more pills, you may get spotting or bleeding. If you vomit or have severe diarrhoea for a week or more, you should follow the 7 day rule.


Chlorine advice

Hastings District Council is chlorinating the water in Havelock North, Hastings, Bridge Pa and Flaxmere.

The Council is aiming to have a residual chlorine level of 0.7 parts per million (ppm). The New Zealand Drinking Water Standards allow a range of residual chlorine of between 0.2 to 1.5 ppm. Hastings District Council has information on the product and process they are using to chlorinate the water supply, visit hastingsdc.govt.nz for more information.


How can you remove the chlorine taste from drinking water?

Chlorine will leave (or dissipate) from water quite quickly by putting the water in a container or jug  in the fridge. Boiling the water also helps take the chlorine taste out of the water.


Why is it necessary to chlorinate the water?

Chlorine is highly effective at killing harmful bacteria that may exist in the water or in the water supply pipes. It has been added as a precautionary measure to safeguard the water from potentially harmful bacteria and to ensure the water supply complies with the required drinking water standards.


Will chlorine affect my health?

Current studies indicate that using or drinking water with small amounts of chlorine does not cause harmful health effects. Its widespread use has been a major factor in reducing illness from waterborne diseases.

If you feel your skin getting dry or ‘itchy’ use moisturiser after having a shower or bath. If you notice increased skin irritation, asthma symptoms or other symptoms – seek medical advice. Even with the small volumes of chlorine used, some people will be able to taste it and some will notice the smell.


Can chlorine affect existing conditions?

Yes, in a small number of people chlorine can be an irritant for an existing condition such as asthma or eczema. If you notice increased skin irritation, asthma symptoms or other symptoms - seek medical advice.

You can contact Heathline 24/7 free on 0800 611 116 or your family doctor (GP).