Search continues in Constance Lake First Nation for source of blastomycosis

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Search continues in Constance Lake First Nation for source of blastomycosis's Profile


The chief of Constance Lake First Nation said they still don’t know the source of a fungus that is causing lung infections among community members.

In November, people in the community started getting sick. The First Nation’s chief and council declared a state of emergency on Nov. 22.

Chief Ramona Sutherland said there are now 26 confirmed cases of blastomycosis, with three more probable cases. Two deaths have been linked to the disease.

Blastomycosis is a lung infection caused by a fungus called blastomyces. Symptoms include a fever, cough, night sweats, chest pain, fatigue and muscle aches.

Severe cases can spread from the lungs to other parts of the body, such as the skin, bones and joints, and the central nervous system.

The fungus is usually found in soil and rotting wood.

Sutherland said while no source has been identified, she has asked for help to clear certain areas.

“The government, I’m still going to press them to move all the wood piles from our community because apparently that’s where blasto grows in wet wood and where there’s little animals living in there,” she said.

She said she is encouraging people to share their thoughts with investigators.

“So please continue with these investigations,” she said.

“The questionnaires, I know they’re lengthy, I’ve seen them and they just go on and on and on…but we’re hoping we will find commonalities and find out where this blasto is.”

More than 130 other people are being monitored for signs of the disease.

Indigenous Services Canada has been working with a Toronto-based company called Sporometrics Inc. to investigate the source of the outbreak.



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