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Ontario First Nation says one person confirmed to have blastomycosis, more services needed – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Noushin Ziafati, The Canadian Press


Published Thursday, November 25, 2021 6:16PM EST

A First Nation in northern Ontario said Thursday that it requires additional services as it grapples with a suspected outbreak of lung infections in dozens of residents, including three deaths.

Constance Lake First Nation, a community of over 900 residents, declared a state of emergency Monday after probable cases of blastomycosis and three recent deaths came to light.

In a news release, the First Nation said it has reported 44 cases – including eight in children – under investigation for the lung infection, which is typically caused by a fungus that grows in moist soil, leaves and rotting wood. Symptoms range from a mild cough to serious breathing problems.

It said 16 of these cases required members to be hospitalized.

In a virtual update Wednesday evening, Constance Lake First Nation Chief Ramona Sutherland said one person has been confirmed to have a case of blastomycosis and has been transferred out to a hospital in a different community. She said another 13 people have probable cases of the infection.

As the community deals with what Sutherland called a “tremendous loss and community crisis,” she said additional services are required.

“”We require services such as emergency housing inspections, additional site assessments, grief/mental health counselling, support for family members of sick individuals, and resources to help elevate fears of our people, to name a few. Due to our low standard of living, we need these resources IMMEDIATELY,“ she wrote in the news release.

“We need to work closely and hold Federal and Provincial Governments accountable during this time of crisis and we ask our neighbouring communities and partners to help support us in our time of need.”

Indigenous Services Canada has said it’s working directly with Sutherland, the Porcupine Public Health Unit, the Ontario government, the Matawa Chiefs Council and other partners to “identify and address community needs.”

The federal department also noted that a representative from ISC arrived in the community Tuesday to provide on-the-ground support, and additional nursing, mental health and crisis support may be provided.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, called the outbreak in the community “quite disconcerting” and said it may be a result of climate change.

“This is a very rare infection. To have the numbers of cases that have occurred in that community is quite startling,” he said.

Moore said the province has brought in multiple resources to “bear and support the community, from the laboratory system, from the health-care system in the Hearst hospital, to enhancing the access to infectious disease experts, both pediatric and adult, and to ensure that the community is getting appropriate screening, testing, as well as access to treatment.”

He also noted that experts have been brought in to conduct an environmental health investigation to find out how the community may have been exposed to blastomycosis.

“This is a rare fungus that is typically found in soil or on on decaying materials such as wood, and it may be a sign of further climate change to have a community that far north, starting to have blastomycosis,” Moore added.

“Typically blastomycosis needs certain temperatures, it typically stays around the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi Valley. And to have it this far north in a large outbreak is very disconcerting.”

Currently, there are at least 11 sites in and around the community where samples will be gathered to detect the source of the fungus suspected of causing infections, including the site of a recent fire, a lumber mill, two lakes, and a school on the reserve.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2021.

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‘I was shocked’: Mother, child mistakenly given COVID-19 vaccine instead of flu shot – Comox Valley Record

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A Manitoba mother says a routine appointment for her and her three-year-old to get flu shots ended in frustration and mixed messages after they were each mistakenly given an adult dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Jenna Bardarson is calling for policy changes at the province’s vaccination centres to make sure that doesn’t happen to another family.

The shots were administered on Nov. 24 at the Keystone Centre in Brandon.

Bardarson says that shortly after she and her daughter, Dali, got their shots, the health worker who had given them excused herself to speak with a supervisor. When the worker returned, she told them she had made a mistake and given them both the adult Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. My immediate concerns were, of course, would my daughter be OK and also who could I speak to about this,” Bardarson said in online social media messages Friday to The Canadian Press.

Once she got home, Bardarson made multiple calls to different departments with the regional medical authority, hoping to speak with someone about the error and her concerns, she said.

She said no one was able to provide her with the answers or information she needed. “The conversations with various Prairie Mountain Health members have been frustrating, to say the least.”

Bardarson said she already had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and was due for her booster shot next month. Her daughter is too young to be eligible.

Health Canada last month approved a pediatric version of the Pfizer shot for children ages five to 11, but it has not yet approved a vaccine for those under five.

Bardarson said she and her daughter had headaches and sore arms the following day. Her daughter had no appetite and was throwing up.

Manitoba Health confirmed the mistake in a statement and said staff from Prairie Mountain have reached out to the mother to discuss what happened as well as to provide an update on an investigation.

“Patient safety is a critical aspect of all health-care services in Manitoba. We are constantly reviewing our processes to ensure that our systems support our staff in preventing errors,” it said.

“In this case … our team reviewed the existing processes to make adjustments that would help avoid a similar error from occurring in the future.”

Bardarson said the health region has not provided her with updated information on the investigation and would not discuss any consequences the health worker may have faced.

Manitoba Health said no further action would be taken against the worker, because she immediately recognized the error and told a supervisor.

For Bardarson, that’s not enough.

“I by no means want her fired; however, there should be some sort of measures in place for harm reduction.”

Bardarson suggested taking away the worker’s injection privileges or enhanced supervision during vaccinations.

She said she would also like to see areas at vaccination centres separated by vaccine types, instead of having different vaccines offered in the same booth.

Manitoba Health could not say if others have been given a COVID-19 vaccine by mistake, but acknowledged that medication errors, although rare, do occur. It added that Bardarson was provided with information about the risks of the COVID-19 vaccine, which in this case it says are low.

Health Canada said it is not in charge of immunization monitoring and could not comment on whether similar mistakes have occurred in other parts of the country.

– Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press

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Two hippos in Belgian zoo test positive for COVID-19

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Two hippos have tested positive for COVID-19 at Antwerp Zoo in Belgium in what could be the first reported cases in the species, zoo staff said.

Hippos Imani, aged 14, and 41-year-old Hermien have no symptoms apart from a runny nose, but the zoo said the pair had been put into quarantine as a precaution.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time in this species. Worldwide, this virus has been reported mainly in great apes and felines,” said the zoo’s vet, Francis Vercammen.

The coronavirus is thought to have jumped from an animal to a human, and it is proved to have passed from humans to animals.

Pets including cats, dogs and ferrets have become infected following contact with their owners, while in zoos, cases have been reported in animals such as big cats, otters, primates and hyenas.

The disease has also spread in mink farms and to wild animals, such as deer.

Antwerp Zoo is investigating the causes of the contagion. None of the zookeepers had recently shown COVID-19 symptoms or tested positive for the virus, the zoo said.

 

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Helen Popper)

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'I was shocked': Mother, child mistakenly given COVID-19 vaccine instead of flu shot – Squamish Chief

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WINNIPEG — A Manitoba mother says a routine appointment for her and her three-year-old to get flu shots ended in frustration and mixed messages after they were each mistakenly given an adult dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Jenna Bardarson is calling for policy changes at the province’s vaccination centres to make sure that doesn’t happen to another family. 

The shots were administered on Nov. 24 at the Keystone Centre in Brandon.

Bardarson says that shortly after she and her daughter, Dali, got their shots, the health worker who had given them excused herself to speak with a supervisor. When the worker returned, she told them she had made a mistake and given them both the adult Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 

“I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. My immediate concerns were, of course, would my daughter be OK and also who could I speak to about this,” Bardarson said in online social media messages Friday to The Canadian Press.

Once she got home, Bardarson made multiple calls to different departments with the regional medical authority, hoping to speak with someone about the error and her concerns, she said.

She said no one was able to provide her with the answers or information she needed. “The conversations with various Prairie Mountain Health members have been frustrating, to say the least.”

Bardarson said she already had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and was due for her booster shot next month. Her daughter is too young to be eligible.

Health Canada last month approved a pediatric version of the Pfizer shot for children ages five to 11, but it has not yet approved a vaccine for those under five. 

Bardarson said she and her daughter had headaches and sore arms the following day. Her daughter had no appetite and was throwing up.

Manitoba Health confirmed the mistake in a statement and said staff from Prairie Mountain have reached out to the mother to discuss what happened as well as to provide an update on an investigation.

“Patient safety is a critical aspect of all health-care services in Manitoba. We are constantly reviewing our processes to ensure that our systems support our staff in preventing errors,” it said.

“In this case … our team reviewed the existing processes to make adjustments that would help avoid a similar error from occurring in the future.”

Bardarson said the health region has not provided her with updated information on the investigation and would not discuss any consequences the health worker may have faced. 

Manitoba Health said no further action would be taken against the worker, because she immediately recognized the error and told a supervisor. 

For Bardarson, that’s not enough.

“I by no means want her fired; however, there should be some sort of measures in place for harm reduction.”

Bardarson suggested taking away the worker’s injection privileges or enhanced supervision during vaccinations. 

She said she would also like to see areas at vaccination centres separated by vaccine types, instead of having different vaccines offered in the same booth.

Manitoba Health could not say if others have been given a COVID-19 vaccine by mistake, but acknowledged that medication errors, although rare, do occur. It added that Bardarson was provided with information about the risks of the COVID-19 vaccine, which in this case it says are low.

Health Canada said it is not in charge of immunization monitoring and could not comment on whether similar mistakes have occurred in other parts of the country.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2021.

___

The story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. 

Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press


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