Risk Groups

Certain groups of people are at increased risk of passing on gastroenteritis to other people. As a result, it is important that such people are fully investigated when they present with symptoms of gastroenteritis. In the investigation of outbreaks of gastroenteritis, people who are in risk groups will be investigated to a greater extent than people not in risk groups, to ensure that they are not at risk of passing on infection.  Full information on the public health and clinical management of infectious intestinal disease and, in particular, methods to manage the risk of those in risk groups is available here.

(Categories of patients who pose a greater risk of onward transmission)

Risk Group

Risk Categorisation


High-risk food handlers (e.g. those whose work involves touching unwrapped foods that will not undergo further heat treatment).


Health care, preschool nursery, or other staff who have direct contact, or contact through serving food, with highly susceptible patients or people in whom an intestinal infection would have particularly serious consequences (for example, the immunosuppressed).


Children under 5 years of age attending nurseries, play groups, or other similar groups (who have not yet fully developed toilet hygiene).


Older children and adults who are unable to implement good standards of personal hygiene (particularly toilet hygiene).

Further information on preventing foodborne illness can be found in the HPSC document, Preventing Foodborne Disease: A Focus on the Infected Food Handler (2004). 

Information on control and prevention of infectious disease in childcare settings can be found here.

Last updated: 29th January 2013