Nine people in the Constance Lake First Nation community have currently tested positive for a lung infection called blastomycosis. A state of emergency has now been declared, Constance Lake First Nation Chief Ramona Sutherland says.Three people have recently died in the community, and while it is unconfirmed that their deaths are due to a lung infection, Sutherland said, in a live stream yesterday, that it is highly likely.
Blastomycosis is an infection that comes from soil, wet woods or mould. Symptoms include: Difficulty breathing, chills, fever and fatigue. About 8 people have been transferred to hospitals in Sudbury and Ottawa with three children at the Children’s hospital in Ottawa.
Indigenous Services Canada will be investigating at least 10 areas of the community to determine how the outbreak started. Due to the state of emergency, all schools in the Constance Lake community are closed and grocery stores and gas stations have a limit of 2 people indoors. The band administration office and clinic remain closed as well, however, Sutherland notes the community will not be locking down. She hopes that by declaring a state of emergency their community will be able to receive government assistance at a quicker rate.
Chief Sutherland says the community became concerned after they were contacted by Hearst hospital’s CEO, who said they have been receiving a concerning number of individuals from Constance Lake First Nation with pneumonia-like symptoms.
Blastomycosis is treatable, and Sutherland is encouraging anyone who has these symptoms, or who is feeling unwell, to get tested at their nearest hospital. Although, it takes at least 4 to 5 days for test results to come back. Those who get tested will also be tested for COVID-19, and all COVID results have so far come back negative, Sutherland says.