The drought and lack of water is increasing the chance of you catching the dreaded tummy bug this summer.
Improperly treated water, roof-collected rainwater, tank water and bird poo could see more bacteria floating in water sources, according to Charles Sturt University microbiologist Thiru Vanniasinkam.
"Extreme weather events such as drought and flood can cause an increase in waterborne/foodborne infections, such as gastro," she said.
Scientists who have done research on the issue recommend watching out for recycled or improperly treated water during dry times.
"When there is less water, producers of food crops may be recycling water - which, if improperly treated, can be an issue," Dr Vanniasinkam said.
"There is also an issue of potential contamination of food crops with surface run-off, which can happen when soil is dry during a drought and rain does not penetrate the soil.
"Any of this water could potentially contaminate fruit or vegetables [and if] consumed raw could potentially be a health risk."
Another source people should be wary of water is home tanks capturing rainwater, especially from the roof of the house.
Any of this water could potentially contaminate fruit or vegetables which is consumed raw could potentially be a health risk.Dr Vanniasinkam
"During a drought, when there may be some rain communities collecting rainwater in tanks, [people] may find an increase of in the number of bacteria in that water," Dr Vanniasinkam said.
"In warmer months, if there are sources of nutrition in the water, the bacteria may also multiply in the tank water."
NSW Health has warned people to play it safe when it comes to germs and bacteria.
"The best way to reduce your chances of getting viral gastroenteritis is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water for at least 10 seconds before handing and eating food, and always wash your hands after using the toilet," NSW Health director of health protection, Dr Jeremy McAnulty, said.
"It is vital if you or your family contract gastroenteritis that you should stay home from work or keep a child home from school if they're sick.
"[Infected people] should not visit hospitals or aged care facilities to avoid spreading the virus in vulnerable settings."
Symptoms of gastroenteritis include:
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle ache
If you have these symptoms, health authorities recommend you do not prepare food for others until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have completely gone, and then double-check you practise good hygiene.
Infected people should also monitor their hydration levels, rest well and, if they have concerns, visit their general practitioner, according to Dr McAnulty.