A highly-infectious gastro disease that can be passed on by changing nappies or through sexual contact is plaguing the Sunshine Coast.
A highly-infectious gastro disease that can be passed on by changing nappies or through sexual contact is plaguing the Sunshine Coast. Samantha Elley

Dirty nappies, sex, spark rise in gastro plaguing residents

A HIGHLY-infectious gastro disease that can be passed on by changing nappies or through sexual contact is plaguing the Sunshine Coast.

Twenty-nine cases of shigella have been reported to Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service this year, showing a sharp increase from the five-year average of eight annual cases.

Shigella is a bacterial infection that causes gastroenteritis, often associated with bloody diarrhoea.

Public health physician Dr Roscoe Taylor said said while the numbers in this region had increased, the cases were in line with other southeast Queensland areas.

More than 600 people have also been struck down with other gastro-type diseases, including campylobacter, salmonellosis and yersiniosis, but the reported numbers are consistent with the five-year average.

Dr Taylor warned the disease could "very easily" spread from person-to-person by direct or indirect contact with faecal matter.

"This commonly occurs if hands are not washed properly after going to the toilet or changing nappies, or through sexual contact," Dr Taylor said.

"Shigella can affect anyone but those living in conditions with poor hygiene, overseas travellers, and men who have sex with men have a higher risk of contracting the infection.

"People with the infection can remain infectious to others for up to a week after their symptoms resolve, so they need to remain vigilant with safe food handling and sexual contact both during and after their illness."

It's a similar story with other major hospitals in southeast Queensland.

Gold Coast has had 50 reported cases this year compared to its average of 11, north Brisbane has had 81 compared to 23 and south Brisbane has had 79 compared to 23.