People's homes not source of Constance Lake blastomycosis outbreak, say investigators
18 probable cases of blastomycosis in the community
Blastomycosis cases in Constance Lake First Nation have not been linked to residential homes, investigators have confirmed.
Indigenous Services Canada has been working with a Toronto based company called Sporometrics Inc. to investigate the source of a blastomycosis outbreak in the northern Ontario First Nation.
On Nov. 29, Constance Lake First Nation Chief Ramona Sutherland said two deaths in the community were linked to the fungal lung infection, which has symptoms similar to pneumonia. To date, three people from the community have died since the outbreak, but Sutherland said the third case has not been confirmed through an autopsy.
In an email statement to CBC News, Indigenous Services Canada spokesperson Nicolas Moquin said they have confirmed one case through laboratoratory testing, as of Nov. 29.
Moquin added there are 18 probable cases of blastomycosis from the community as of that date.
But so far environmental samples tested in Sporometrics' Toronto lab have come back negative.
"This result is not abnormal due to the difficulty in isolating blastomyces spores from environmental samples," Moquin said in the Indigenous Services Canada statement. "Additional test results are forthcoming."
Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist with the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health, told CBC News the spores that cause blastomycosis can be found in soil and rotting wood, in certain wooded areas of Ontario.
When that soil or wood is disturbed, the spores spread through the air and can cause an infection if inhaled.
Banerji said the infection cannot be spread between people.
In a Facebook update on Dec. 2, Constance Lake First Nation said investigators would test samples from a wood and sawdust pile in the community. The update asked residents not to disturb or remove anything from the pile.