Respiratory outbreak at Leamington care home no cause for concern, says health unit
'Any two cases in a 48-hour time period in any institution can be considered an outbreak'
Sun Parlour Care Home in Leamington, Ont. has been under a respiratory outbreak warning since July 22.
Despite the extended outbreak, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit said there's no immediate cause for concern — and that they are closely monitoring the situation.
According to the health unit, an outbreak can be called for as few as two people affected.
"In long term [care home] cases, we look at three criteria — time, place and the person," said Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health. "Any two cases or more than two cases in a 48-hour time period in any institution can be considered an outbreak. We put those cases under close observation."
Ahmed would not speak directly about the ongoing outbreak at Sun Parlour, but instead spoke broadly about outbreak procedures the health unit follows.
Institutions take a number of steps to stop an outbreak from spreading. Ahmed said that could be as simple as isolating the sick individuals, but that the health unit offers a number of supports and resources for outbreak situations, including education on how to adjust daily practices.
"How frequently they're cleaning surfances, appropriate hand hygience practices, more cleaning, more staffed," listed Ahmed. "We talk to [the institution] every day and then if we feel we need to do more, we do."
Once an outbreak has been declared, a long-term care home provides a daily "line listing" to the health unit, which has details on who is sick, what their symptoms are and where they are located within the facility.
As a result of the outbreak, Sun Parlour has cancelled external appointments for its residents. Entertainment and community group visits are also cancelled, and family visitors are encouraged to wear a mask.
Ahmed said one of the challenges in determining if a situation is an outbreak is that for many institutions, residents are "there for a reason."
"They're all sick," said Ahmed. "Their symptoms may not necessarily be an outbreak symptom."
The health unit provides training and education on a yearly basis to long term care homes and other similar institutions, but Ahmed said outbreaks are still fairly common in larger places. Outbreaks are publicly listed and updated on the WECHU website.