Outbreaks in Child Care Centers

To report an outbreak during regular business hours, or for more information, call 613-580-2424 ext. 26325.  Evenings, weekends or holidays, call 3-1-1 and ask to speak with the Public Health Inspector on-call.

It is important that child care centres collaborate with Ottawa Public Health (OPH) to ensure the prevention, early detection and control of infectious diseases. When a case or outbreak of an infectious disease occurs, OPH works closely with staff at your centre to implement appropriate infection control measures, to manage contacts, and to provide education and direction as needed. Prompt reporting of suspect or confirmed cases or outbreaks of infectious diseases is crucial to enable early implementation of control measures that can minimize the risk of further transmission or spread of the infection in child care centres.

To report an outbreak during normal business hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), please call 613-580-2424 ext. 26325. To report a single case of a communicable disease during normal business hours please call 613-580-2424 ext. 24224. To report in the evening, on weekends or holidays, please call 3-1-1 and ask to speak with the public health inspector on-call.

Reporting outbreaks to Ottawa Public Health

A Child Care Centre should report an Outbreak of Illness to Ottawa Public Health (OPH)

Any child, staff, or student tests positive for COVID-19
When there are three (3) or more cases of gastrointestinal (GI) illness (child and/or staff) within a program, group, or the entire centre in a three (3) day period, even if cases occurred at home
If there are one or more case(s) of a reportable enteric disease in the centre (see below)
If there is >15% absenteeism due to illness within a program or entire centre on one day.

When an outbreak is suspected, implement outbreak control measures:

  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and common areas
  • Post signs to alert staff and parents or guardians of increased absenteeism or outbreak
  • Clean and disinfect toys and play areas twice daily and when visibly soiled
  • Exclude ill children and staff
  • If possible, keep ill children in a separate supervised area until a parent or guardian takes them home
  • Be diligent to perform hand hygiene

Report to OPH

If an outbreak is suspected or you are uncertain if you have an outbreak, call OPH Outbreak Reporting Line at 613-580-6744 ext 26325, Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm or 3-1-1 after hours.

If an outbreak is confirmed by OPH, fax the line listing to OPH at 613-580-9649 on a daily basis until the outbreak is declared over by OPH.

Do you have children absent with other illnesses?

Refer to the Guidelines for Communicable Disease and Other Childhood Health Issues for Schools and Child Care Centres

Infection prevention and control measures during outbreaks 

Exclusion of ill children and/or staff

Children and/or staff should stay at home when they have: 

During an outbreak, staff should be vigilant about monitoring children for symptoms of illness. Children can return to the child care centre or school after they have completed their period of isolation and should continue to follow public health measures when planning to resume regular activities.

Cohorting of ill children

If possible, ill children should be kept in a separate, supervised area that can be easily cleaned and disinfected, until a parent or guardian takes them home. 

Cleaning and disinfection

Routine cleaning and disinfection is essential to prevent the spread of germs. During outbreaks, you may need to take additional measures, including, but not limited to, the following: 

  • Ensure that the disinfectant used during an outbreak is effective to kill Norovirus, a virus which often results in enteric outbreaks
  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces at least twice a day
  • Avoid sensory play during outbreaks (e.g. water or sand activities, use of play-dough)
  • Remove shared items such as toys that cannot be easily cleaned and disinfected for the duration of the outbreak

Hand Hygiene

Hand hygiene is essential for all staff and children to prevent the spread of germs. Infants and young children should be supervised when performing hand hygiene to ensure it is done properly. Hand hygiene includes both hand washing and hand sanitizing and should be done more frequently during outbreaks.

You must ensure that:

  • Hands are washed with liquid soap and running water for at least 15 seconds if visibly soiled
  • Hands should be rubbed with 70-90% alcohol-based hand sanitizers for at least 15 seconds if not visibly soiled.
Hand hygiene resources
Line listing for outbreaks


Outbreak line listing for child care centers and schools [PDF 160 kb]

Fax daily to: 613-580-9649


Outbreak signage 

If possible, print the signs in colour and post, facing outwards, at the main entrance and all other public entrances. 

This child care centre is experiencing unusual absenteeism due to illness [PDF 194 kb]

How to collect stool specimens
Kit contains two sterile containers:
Container NumberColour of CapTransport MediaTest Required
#1 White cap Empty vial Virology
#2 Green cap Red transport medium Bacteriology


  • Check the expiration date on the sterile containers. DO NOT use expired kits
  • If blood or mucus is present in the stool, take the sample from this part of the stool
  • Stool specimens that have been in contact with water in the toilet are unacceptable 

Collection Procedure:

  • Complete laboratory submission form and label the containers prior to collecting the specimens
  • Adults and toilet trained children should defecate into a clean container (i.e. a disposable plate or nun's cap). In the event of incontinence or for children who are not toilet trained, collect stool sample (feces) from the soiled diaper/incontinence brief or directly from the child's training "potty"
  • Using the individual "scoop" attached to each of the caps, transfer stool into the corresponding sterile container  fill the white cap vial first
  • Tighten the caps. Do not use excessive force to tighten the caps as the containers may crack and leak in transit
  • Place the containers in the inner pocket of the plastic biohazard bag
  • Place the General Test Requisition form in the small outer pocket of the plastic biohazard bag. DO NOT place the form in the inner pocket      
  • Place the biohazard bag into the brown paper bag, provided and refrigerate the sample(s)
  • Perform hand hygiene. If hands are visibly soiled, use soap and water.
  • Call Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744, ext. 26325 for stool sample pick-up and delivery to the Public Health Laboratory located in Ottawa.
  • DO NOT submit the specimen to the lab without contacting Ottawa Public Health


Label each container with the client's name, Date of Birth and date the stool sample was collected

Samples that are incorrectly filled out, or packaged improperly will be discarded by Public Health Lab

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