Respiratory infection outbreaks occur in long-term care homes (LTCHs) throughout the year but are more common from the fall to early spring. These can lead to substantial morbidity and mortality and are disruptive and costly for LTCHs. Respiratory tract infections are commonly diagnosed infections in LTCH residents. In Ontario, based on data from the Public Health Ontario Laboratory (PHOL), the most common respiratory viruses causing respiratory infection outbreaks are influenza A and B, entero-rhinovirus, coronavirus, RSV, parainfluenza, and metapneumovirus. Occasionally, not only one, but two or more infectious agents are identified in an outbreak.
LTCH residents are predisposed to Acute Respiratory Infections (ARIs) in part because they may be elderly, may have chronic illnesses which weaken their immune system, and may have chronic lung or neurological diseases which impair their ability to clear secretions from their lungs and airways. However, residents are also at risk because many viral and bacterial respiratory pathogens are easily transmitted in an institutional environment.
Early detection together with the timely implementation of outbreak control measures that are carefully adhered to, can effectively minimize transmission of infection, thereby preventing or more quickly bringing an outbreak under control.
The purpose of this guide is to assist LTCHs and public health units (PHUs) with prevention, detection and management of respiratory infection outbreaks which arise from the transmission of common viral pathogens, through droplet exposure.
A Guide to the Control of Respiratory Infection Outbreaks in Long-Term Care Homes
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has compiled resources to support health care providers implement effective infection prevention & control (IPAC) and occupational health & safety (OHS) measures during the 2013/2014 influenza season.
97 pages | 1.75 mb | PDF format
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