Gastroenteritis in childcare centres and schools

Each year many childcare centres and schools experience gastroenteritis outbreaks each year. Most of these outbreaks are due to viruses (mostly norovirus or rotavirus) which can spread rapidly through a centre or school, infecting large numbers of both children and staff. These viruses can spread by the faecal-oral route, by swallowing aerosolised virus (eg from vomitus) or via hands touching contaminated surfaces or people. 

As recommended by WA Health operational directive (external link), ill staff and children should be excluded from a: 

  • Childcare centre until they have been asymptomatic with normal stools for 48 hours.
  • School until they have been asymptomatic with normal stools for 24 hours.
Below are links to guidelines and forms that will help staff prevent and control gastroenteritis outbreaks.


The Infection Control Fact Sheet (PDF 69KB) provides recommendations for preventing, managing and reporting gastroenteritis outbreaks. 

The public health unit can provide advice on the use of the outbreak reporting forms listed below: