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

PHOTOS: Armstrong MetalFest rocks Hassen

Big crowds gather for popular two-day annual heavy metal music festival

UPDATED: Lane closed after fatal collision on Highway 97 east of Falkland

A man in his 60s is dead after a single vehicle crash on July 15

Vernon golf event lands Hockey Night in Canada analyst

Kelly Hrudey to emcee 10th annual VJH Foundation Charity Classic golf tourney Sept. 8

Classic vehicles cruise main street Vernon and Polson Park

Annual Vernon Cruise-In Car Show draws hundreds both days at the two locations

Five straight for Armstrong Shamrocks

Shamrocks win Rowcliffe Cup Thompson Okanagan Senior Lacrosse League title with 7-2 win over Kelowna

VIDEO: Okanagan Valley weekday weather update

Environment Canada says it’s going to be a rainy week

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Mercury tops out on top of the world: Alert in Nunavut warmer than Victoria

It’s the latest anomaly in what’s been a long, hot summer across the Arctic

Canadian is detained in China on drug allegations: Chinese government

Detention of a Canadian in China comes as part a diplomatic dispute triggered by arrest of Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou

Single vehicle roll over in Okanagan sends one to hospital

One person sent to hospital with non life-threatening injuries

Baby locked in car at Okanagan YMCA

The baby was rescued quickly

Too much time on social media can hurt teens’ mental health: study

Researchers conducted a four-year survey of more than 3,800 adolescents between Grades 7 and 11

Super League Triathlon in the Okanagan cancelled

It was confirmed Monday next month’s planned Super League Triathlon has been cancelled

Advocates want charges in horse deaths during Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races

Chuckwagon races are a nightly spectacle during the Stampede, a 10-day annual celebration of western life

Most Read