The Ottawa Hospital says there's no outbreak of a virus known as red eye at its Eye Institute after a woman said she was told she was infected there in early January.
Jennifer Whitfield went to the hospital's Eye Institute for a routine glaucoma test, and said she started developing symptoms of red eye — or epidemic keratoconjunctivitis (EKC) — nearly two weeks later.
A doctor at a walk-in clinic first diagnosed it as an eye infection and prescribed antibiotic cream, she said, but the symptoms got worse. Her family doctor then prescribed antibiotics for cellulitis, an infection of the skin around the eye.
It didn't get better in 24 hours, so she went to the emergency department at The Ottawa Hospital's General campus. She was given an IV and was told to visit the Eye Institute nearby.
At the institute, an opthalmologist told her she had contracted EKC during her previous visit for the glaucoma test.
"The opthalmologist told me that it's extremely virulent, and that it is actually focused on the Eye Institute, and that's where I got it," Whitfield said.
"The incubation period is around 14 days, so that was clearly where I got it and they were sure that that's where I had got it."
More cases than usual, but no outbreak, hospital says
Hospital officials told CBC News they have seen a few more cases of EKC than usual at the Eye Institute in January, but that all equipment is disinfected constantly and there is no evidence the clinic is the source of the problem.
"It can survive on inanimate objects so that would include medical equipment, but also things like door handles, elevator buttons, telephones and it's also circulating in the community, likely," said Dr. Kathryn Suh.
"We have not declared an outbreak," Suh said.
But Whitfield said she should have been warned.
"I wish that the Eye Institute had been more forthcoming with the medical community at large and with their own institution. They should have called all the patients, and it would have been helpful if my own doctor had known about it," Whitfield said.
The best way to prevent getting red eye is to wash hands regularly and keep hands away from eyes. There is no treatment, but the virus usually runs its course in a couple of weeks and leaves no lasting effect.