Important Notice: Scabies Outbreak at Halifax Infirmary

Good afternoon,

It has been brought to our attention by our members that there is a confirmed case of Crusted Scabies at the Halifax Infirmary, and that some employees who have come into contact with a patient have been infected. This case was brought to the union’s attention on September 26th. At that time, we provided direction to the affected members regarding how to proceed. Less than a week later, we heard back from multiple members concerned that the action taken by the employer was not effectively containing the spread of Crusted Scabies. As well, members expressed concern about direction they were receiving to return to work while still symptomatic, and against medical advice, as well as the type of leave they were being paid under. Both your ERO and President immediately contacted the employer to express our alarm over how this incident was being handled.

The union was concerned that the lack of clear direction provided by the employer had the potential to greatly impact members from all bargaining units, patients, visitors, as well as the community at large.

If you suspect you have been infected, we are asking that you follow the advice of your healthcare providers in terms of when to return to work. Also, you should contact your Employee Relations Officer at the NSGEU if you have concerns about contractual rights and/or the workplace.

We learned today that the employer has now issued the following protocol regarding the outbreak:

There has been a confirmed case of Crusted Scabies at the Halifax Infirmary. Given the communicable nature and duration of incubation for Crusted Scabies, Occupational Health Safety & Wellness has provided the following education and treatment protocol for staff:

Staff who have had direct contact with the case and are symptomatic; presence of a rash and or intense itching, are being directed to:

  • apply a Scabicide and exclude themselves from the workplace for a period of 24 hour post effective treatment application
  • symptomatic staff should contact the Central Zone Exposure Line at (902) 473-4666 as well as the SAFE line (902) 473-7233
  • staff who have applied an effective treatment and remain symptomatic have been directed to a Health Care Provider for further assessment
  • these workplace exposures are being treated as Workers Compensation claims, as such WCB will adjudicate entitlement for wage loss benefits and related expenses
  • any medical documentation should be forwarded directly to WCB to assist in wage loss entitlement
  • where required the employer will assist employees in ensuring medical documentation is provided to WCB


Any staff that had direct contact with the patient, but are NOT symptomatic, are being instructed by Occupational Health Safety and Wellness to:

  • apply a Scabicide as a prophylactic, there is no exclusion period for staff who are NOT symptomatic
  • given this recommendation, the organization will cover the cost of the Scabicide for a staff member’s personal use. Staff can submit receipts to their Manager for reimbursement
  • Scabicide has been made available to affected staff through the Halifax Infirmary Pharmacy as well as on the affected unit
  • Staff who report symptoms post treatment are being directed to a Health Care Provider for further assessment
  • Given medical aid being sought, these cases will also be treated as Workers Compensation claims

 Staff working on the unit are being instructed on the use of personal protective equipment when required. Instructions have been provided to Housekeeping regarding additional cleaning protocols for the unit, inclusive of common areas. A follow up meeting occurred on October 3, 2019 with Housekeeping staff to ensure the protocols remain in place. Instructions have also been provided regarding proper handling of items such as bedding and personal clothing to prevent further spread.

Management, Occupational Health Safety & Wellness (OHSW) and Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) representatives are working collaboratively to ensure that appropriate supports are in place. An updated FAQ will be provided to staff and a Town Hall is being scheduled for the week of October 6th to provide staff an opportunity to speak to IPAC, Management and OHSW representatives regarding the status of the case.

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