Communicable disease outbreaks in long day care centres in western Sydney: Occurrence and risk factors

L. R. Jorm, A. G. Capon

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We surveyed the directors of all 92 long day care centres in western Sydney to document the occurrence of communicable disease outbreaks during 1992 and to identify risk factors for the occurrence of these outbreaks. A total of 6092 children were enrolled at the centres, of whom 530 (8.7%) were less than 3 years old. Most centres (80.4%) reported at least one outbreak of communicable disease. Diarrhoea was the most commonly reported outbreak type (60 outbreaks), followed by conjunctivitis, head louse infestation and chicken pox (46, 44 and 24 outbreaks, respectively). Chicken pox outbreaks had the largest mean number of cases per outbreak (9.6) and the longest mean outbreak duration (4.4 weeks). Centres with a large total enrolment (50 or more children), those that were open for 12 or more hours each day and those which had commenced operating in 1990 or more recently were generally more likely to report outbreaks, particularly of diarrhoea. The vast majority of communicable disease outbreaks (92.1%) were handled by day‐care staff without seeking outside assistance. Day‐care centre directors may be unaware of the health services that could help them. We need to work more closely with long day care centres, and to focus preventative efforts on large centres, those open for long hours, and newly opened centres.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-154
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • child
  • communicable disease
  • day care
  • diarrhoea
  • risk factors

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