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Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health

Gastroenteritis / Respiratory Infection Institutional Outbreak FAQs

Outbreaks occur when the usual incidence of disease in a Long Term Care Home (LTCH) or Retirement Home (RH) is exceeded at any given time.

Early identification of an outbreak is essential since the implementation of precautions and therapeutic interventions can prevent the spread of infection and decrease the morbidity and mortality of a very frail, compromised population.

Gastroenteritis Outbreaks

Outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness in institutions are most frequently caused by viruses such as norovirus, rotavirus, astrovirus, calicivirus, enteric adenovirus, and others. However, bacteria and other pathogens may cause outbreaks as well.

The most common presentation of gastroenteritis is, but is not limited to, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea, along with nausea, headache, chills and myalgia.

Respiratory Infection Outbreaks

Respiratory tract infections are the most commonly diagnosed infections of LTCH and RH residents.

Residents are predisposed to such infections in part because they may be elderly, may have chronic illnesses which weaken their immune system, and may have chronic lung or neurological disease which impairs their ability to clear secretions from their lungs and airways.

Residents are also at risk because many viral and bacterial pathogens are easily transmitted in this type of environment.

Gastroenteritis / respiratory infection outbreaks in institutions are reportable to Public Health.

Gastroenteritis Institutional Outbreak Fact Sheet printable pdf

Respiratory Infection Institutional Outbreak Fact Sheet printable pdf

Need More Information About Gastroenteritis / Respiratory Infection Institutional Outbreak FAQs?

Talk to your health care provider or call our Communicable Disease Program at 613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803, ext. 349.

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Appointments for individuals 5+ can be booked through the provincial vaccine booking site, or by calling 1-833-943-3900 from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week.  

Due to limited supply, HPEPH will initially be prioritizing available bivalent vaccine for residents and workers at identified highest-risk facilities.  Some HPEPH vaccination clinics MAY offer the bivalent vaccine, as availability allows. Vaccine clinics in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties will continue to offer monovalent vaccines (the same mRNA vaccines given as the primary series) for all eligible individuals until a steady supply of the bivalent vaccine is available.

Visit the HPEPH vaccine booking web page for details.


Symptoms or exposure? Visit for the most up to date information about what to do.

For the most up to date information on current provincial restrictions, visit

The Ministry of Health has launched a new toll-free line as an additional resource to help answer questions from the public regarding evolving COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance. The line can be reached at 1-888-777-0730, and is available from 8 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week.