Exposure to fungus that caused Constance Lake outbreak likely not recent, says doctor
3 people have died since Friday although blastomycosis has not been confirmed in those deaths
Exposure to a fungus that has caused lung infections in Constance Lake First Nation likely happened some time ago, according to a doctor from Indigenous Services Canada.
Dr. JoAnn Majorevich told the community, located northwest of Timmins, Ont., that exposure to a fungus called blastomyces could have happened during a gathering in the spring.
That fungus causes blastomycosis, a lung infection that can be deadly if not treated properly.
But Majorevich said the cold can inhibit the spores that cause the disease.
On Monday, Nov. 22 Constance Lake First Nation declared a state of emergency due to the outbreak.
Three people have died since Friday although blastomycosis has not been confirmed in those deaths.
Patients have been transported by air to hospitals around Ontario, including Health Sciences North in Sudbury.
A spokesperson at the Sudbury hospital confirmed Monday afternoon they had two patients from Constance Lake First Nation in the intensive care unit, with two more on the way.
Four people have tested positive with the infection, and many more have shown symptoms, which include a fever, cough, night sweats, chest pain, fatigue and muscle aches.
The family of Luke Moore, 43, suspects he died of the disease, and are awaiting autopsy results from Toronto to determine his cause of death.
Constance Lake Chief Ramona Sutherland has updated her community over live Facebook video discussions, and has asked anyone with symptoms to seek medical care as soon as possible.
Sutherland said the community is working closely with all levels of government to determine the cause of the outbreak and provide medical care for individuals with symptoms.
Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist with the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said blastomycosis can be treated with a common antifungal.
Banerji added the disease cannot be spread between people, and only comes from the environment.
With files from Kate Rutherford