Toronto now posting disease outbreaks online
By Taylor Parsons
The City of Toronto has launched a website that posts weekly outbreaks of illness in hospitals, nursing homes and retirement homes.
The new public disclosure system comes after an investigation last August by the Toronto Star and Ryerson University. The investigation followed disease outbreaks between 2010-2013 at a Scarborough long-term care facility involving dozens of hospitalizations, five deaths, and in which 200 seniors were exposed to vomiting, dehydration and diarrhea, the Toronto Star reported Tuesday.
The new disclosure system posts outbreak reports every Thursday and details the nature of the disease involved, if the cause is known, the institution’s name and address, the day the outbreak was reported, and if the outbreak is still ongoing.
“I think it is a great idea. I think that the more knowledgeable everyone is the better,” said Catherine McKee, a registered nurse at Humber.
“Being transparent on what is happening in our long term care facilities and how we can help is very important,” she said.
“It is an opportunity to not only educate but to prevent spread. It is important to know how we can support them to decrease outbreak from occurring,” McKee said.
Humber News asked her if weekly reports were efficient enough, given how fast diseases can spread.
“Weekly is fine. It takes time for swabs and verification to occur. There are steps that are taken to ensure what it is that has been isolated is the same bacteria or virus — and ensure that proper reporting has occurred,” she said.
“We also do not want to cause mass panic when not necessary. This is a great first step.”
Below is an interactive map version of the report, depicting the locations and details of the outbreaks. Red pegs show outbreaks currently active at time of publication, and blue pegs represent inactive cases.