The number of rotavirus cases in South Australia nursing homes increased 56 percent to 527 this year from 338 last year, according to health authorities.

Six nursing homes were found to have 110 infections, with one home having 38 cases of the gastroenteritis, last month.

Rotavirus infects the bowel and causes diarrhea, which leads to dehydration. The virus spreads through contaminated hands, objects, food or water with traces of infected faeces.

Australian Medical Association state president Dr. Andrew Lavender attributed the outbreaks to the breakdown of infection control measures in nursing homes. Lavender reminded that strict handwashing is important in preventing the outbreaks.