02/18/2014 02:42 EST | Updated 04/20/2014 05:59 EDT

Pink eye outbreak shuts down Baie-Comeau hospital eye clinic

An ophthalmology clinic at a hospital in Baie-Comeau, Que., has been shut down after more than 400 people contracted pink eye.

An investigation by local public health officials led them to Le Royer Hospital in Quebec’s North Shore region.

“We noticed a fairly rapid increase in the number of cases of conjunctivitis,” said the public health agency's Dr. Manon Gingras.

About 400 people – including 100 health-care workers – now have the infection, which usually lasts about three weeks and is accompanied by itchiness, redness and discharge.

The head of the regional health agency for Quebec's North Shore, Daniel Côté, said patients have been transferred to an external clinic for consultations.

He also said the health-care workers on sick leave make up 10 per cent of the health-care staff in the region, a situation which is in itself a concern.

"Of 950 workers, if 100 are off work on sick leave, we have to look at our level of service," Côté said.