Update on Blastomycosis Outbreak in Constance Lake

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Map of the Constance Lake region of Northwestern Ontario with Graphite zones
Map of the Constance Lake region of Northwestern Ontario with Graphite zones

CONSTANCE LAKE FN – The community of Constance Lake is under a state of emergency over an outbreak of blastomycosis.

Indigenous Services Canada says that as of November 21, 2021, there were approximately 9 probable cases of blastomycosis and approximately 8 persons under investigation for blastomycosis.

ISC is working directly with Chief Ramona Sutherland; the Porcupine Public Health Unit; the Ontario Ministry of Health; the Matawa Chiefs Council; and other health partners to identify and address community needs and ensure those affected have access to the resources they need.

A representative from Indigenous Services Canada arrived in community today to provide on-the-ground support for as long as necessary.

Supports in place currently include:

·        The Porcupine Public Health Unit (PPHU) and the Matawa Tribal Council (Matawa) will conduct a combined inspection of sites in the community identified by Constance Lake First Nation leadership.

·        ISC is working with Sporometrics Inc. —a Toronto-based laboratory specializing in mould and fungi— to send a PhD mycologist to collect samples from areas identified by community leadership in Constance Lake First Nation. Sporometrics Inc. will be analyzing the samples collected on November 22 and 23 by the PPHU and Matawa.

·        The Hôpital Notre-Dame Hospital in the town of Hearst, ON, has closed its operating room and is setting up an observation unit for probable cases and persons under investigation for  blastomycosis cases from Constance Lake First Nation. They have a stock of anti-fungals to treat individuals who require treatment.

·        The Public Health Agency of Canada mobilized a field epidemiologist to assist with the investigation on November 21, 2021 and the work began over the weekend.

·        The Province is providing surge acute care support for the local hospital.

·        ISC is assessing the requirement for additional surge nursing support in the community to ensure community needs are met.

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is working with partners who provide mental wellness supports to the community to secure additional mental health and crisis response supports if requested by the community.

The Province of Ontario is expediting relevant testing to ensure results are available as soon as possible.

ISC is committed to supporting the Chief and working with partners to ensure the community receives any necessary supports.

Blastomycosis is not contagious, and it is not transmitted from person to person, nor between animals and humans. That said, the number of cases is very concerning and the department is mobilizing all efforts to support the community.