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

Just Posted

2019 Alberta Scotties, hosted in Stettler, could be anybody’s bonspiel

Competition will be lively between hometown rivalries, champs and hopefuls

Blackfalds RCMP on scene of school bus collision and car jacking

RCMP are looking for a silver 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander with Alberta license plate BNR655

Farmers are at increased risk of mental health issues such as depression or anxiety

Stettler County hosts Agriculture Mental Health Awareness Seminar

Erskine and area residents help couple who lost their home and belongings to a fire

Erskine Post Office accepting donations until end of January

WATCH: World-renowned illusionist, magician, escapist performs in Stettler

Matt Johnson performs two sold-out shows at Stettler Performing Arts Centre

Top Canadian athletes inducted into the Canada Games Hall of Honour

Athletes doing incredible things for communities are inducted into Hall of Honour, says Games CEO

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Blackfalds RCMP seeking information on activities of stolen Fountain Tire Truck

Blackfalds RCMP recovered truck following earlier collision and car-jacking

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after truck collides with six vehicles

No one was injured and the male driver was restrained by a nearby resident until police arrived

Liberals look to make home-buying more affordable for millennials: Morneau

Housing is expected to be a prominent campaign issue ahead of October’s federal election

Man accused of threatening to kill ‘as many girls as I see’

Christopher W. Cleary wrote he was angry because he’d never had a girlfriend and wanted to ‘make it right’ with a mass shooting

Cannabis-carrying border crossers could be hit with fines under coming system

Penalties are slated to be in place some time next year

Most Read