An outbreak of Streptococcal infections kills Nine in Ontario

A streptococcal outbreak in the London, Ontario area has killed nine people in the last 18 months.

Thirty-two cases of group A streptococcal infection were treated. Intensive care unit treatment was required in 22% of cases. Of those affected, 15% contracted flesh-eating bacteria; 15% were affected by toxic shock syndrome. Finally, nine people died.

This situation forced the Middlesex-London Health Unit to issue an alert to physicians in the area.

“Two distinct realities have emerged during our investigation,” says Dr. Hovhannisyan, Associate Medical Officer of Health at the Middlesex-London Health Unit. “We’ve found about half of the cases are among injection drug users and/or those without access to stable housing. Yet there has also been an increase in iGAS infections among people who have no connection, and are not related, to the outbreak in people who inject drugs or who are under-housed. We need a better understanding of what’s happening, which is why we’ve issued this alert.”

According to Dr. Gayane Hovhannisyan, at least half of those affected take intravenous drugs or are considered homeless. However, the alert was launched because public health has seen a marked increase in infections among people not in this group.

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