BAIE-COMEAU, Que. — Public health officials in this northern Quebec town are scrambling to contain a pink eye outbreak that has spread to 400 people.
Fifty staff at the local hospital have been hit by conjunctivitis, in what's considered an unprecedented health crisis in the province.
"We have never had a similar situation to my knowledge," said microbiologist Dr. Julio Soto, a 27-year veteran of Quebec's public-health institute in Montreal.
A patient who visited the hospital's eye clinic in December is believed to have triggered the outbreak. The eye clinic has been shut down and officials have launched control measures.
Dr. Soto said the adenovirus that's responsible for pink eye is highly contagious and very durable. It can survive on surfaces such as telephones and computers for up to 10 days.
He says a vigorous sterilization effort is underway at the hospital.
Baie-Comeau is about eight hours northeast of Montreal.