An electron microscope image of Group A Streptococcus. (Handout)

Nine dead in London, Ont., area in streptococcus outbreak: health unit

Outbreak was declared more than 18 months ago, with more than 132 cases of infection reported

Health officials issued an alert on Monday, saying nine people have died in an ongoing invasive group A streptococcus outbreak in the London, Ont., area.

The outbreak was declared more than 18 months ago and the Middlesex-London Health Unit says more than 132 cases of infection have been reported since April 1, 2016.

Of the cases, 22 per cent required treatment in intensive care, 15 per cent had Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome and 15 per cent had necrotizing fasciitis — also called “flesh-eating” disease.

Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Gayane Hovhannisyan says about half of the cases have been among injection drug users and/or people without access to stable housing.

Symptoms depend on the site of the infection and may include fever, chills, sore throat, dizziness, confusion, severe pain, redness or swelling around a wound or injured area.

Hovhannisyan says the alert has been issued because the health unit is seeing an increase in infections among people who have no connection to the outbreak in people who inject drugs or don’t have stable housing.

“We need a better understanding of what’s happening, which is why we’ve issued this alert,” she said Monday in a news release.

The bacteria are spread by direct contact with nose and throat secretions from an infected person, or by direct contact with infected wounds or sores on the skin.

While the infections can occur year-round, the health unit said Monday that the number of infections tends to increase during the winter.

It said the majority of streptococcus infections cause relatively mild illnesses like strep throat, but sometimes more serious and potentially life-threatening infections are able to get into muscles, blood and other organs.

The health unit advises regular handwashing, covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, avoid sharing drinking and eating utensils and to not share drug paraphernalia in an effort to avoid infection.

The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Month-long water quality advisory still in effect for Rupert residents

The City of Prince Rupert recommends those with weakened immune systems boil water prior to use

Jennifer Rice North Coast MLA seeks re-election

Northwest politicians announce intent on elections

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Heart of the City – Jason Scherr

Try and Try again - Prince Rupert Seamen Rugby Club

No COVID-19 public exposures in the North Health Region at this time

Northern Health Authority issued a statement on Sept. 17

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Application deadline for fish harvester benefits program extended

Those financially impacted by the pandemic have until Oct. 5 to apply

Most Read