Montreal

Missed email leads to norovirus outbreak at Rouyn-Noranda care facility

A long-term care facility in Rouyn-Noranda was advised that raspberries were subject to a recall because they were suspected of being contaminated with norovirus. But patients and staff were served a raspberry compote anyway, Radio-Canada has learned.

More than 100 people fell ill after eating raspberry compote suspected of being contaminated with norovirus

More than 100 people fell ill after an outbreak of norovirus at a long-term care facility in Rouyn-Noranda. (Radio-Canada)

An email miscommunication led to an outbreak of norovirus that affected more than 100 people at a long-term care facility in Rouyn-Noranda in early August, Radio-Canada has learned.

Patients and staff at the home were served peach and raspberry compote on Aug. 2 and 4.

A few hours later, 26 people showed symptoms of gastroenteritis.

Over the next 10 days, between Aug. 4 and 14, 61 patients and 48 employees at the facility fell ill.

The Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region had been notified that the raspberries were subject to a recall because they were suspected of being contaminated with norovirus.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency emailed the facility about the recall on July 20, according to access to information requests obtained by Radio-Canada.

But that email was only sent to one person and that person didn't relay the information to the kitchen staff.

The facility wouldn't say why the message didn't get to the kitchen.

Changes put in place

The interim head of IT services for the facility, Stéphane Lachapelle, says more people have been added to its mailing list.

"We put in place an algorythm that allows suppliers to send an email" to a group of 6 to 8 people, Lachapelle said.

Patrice Larivière, spokesperson for the union representing the workers, said it's unfortunate the email wasn't passed on.

He blamed the error on a reorganization of services.

​"I hope that it's a situation that won't happen again," Larivière said.

With files from Radio-Canada