‘They did everything they could’: Family sounds alarm over fatal Strep A case in N.S.

Click to play video: 'N.S. woman speaks out after losing husband to strep A'
N.S. woman speaks out after losing husband to strep A
A Nova Scotia woman is sounding the alarm after her husband contracted strep A and died. Nova Scotia Health says it’s facing what they call a rare, invasive form of strep throat that’s producing an increased number of cases. As Zack Power explains, the symptoms are coming quickly – and have already proven to be fatal – Apr 1, 2024

When David Gilson’s family had the flu spread throughout their house in February, his daughter and wife both had mild cases.

But when David’s virus hit, it left him with a temperature of 104°F, his wife Mary told Global News.

She said after taking advice from Nova Scotia Health’s 811 services, Gilson went to Fishermen’s Memorial Hospital in Lunenburg. After some tests, he was sent home, with doctors telling the 45-year-old he had a case of viral hepatitis.

Click to play video: 'Strep A cases on the rise in the Maritimes'
Strep A cases on the rise in the Maritimes

Hours later, he was rushed back to the ER after developing pain and swelling in his legs.

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Little did he know at the time that he developed necrotizing fasciitis from invasive group A streptococcal (iGAS).

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“They were battling to stave off the infection. He was on multiple antibiotics and multiple medications to raise his blood pressure. They did everything they could,” she said.

“It went from him having a sore throat and strep throat and having it (spread) throughout his entire system, and then it took hold of a couple of parts of his body.”

David later died in hospital after doctors in Bridgewater attempted life-saving surgery.

Mary said she and the family commend the doctors after working around the clock in an attempt to save him.

Gilson was 45 when he died. Courtesy: Mary Gilson

David’s case is among a growing number of cases of this invasive form of strep A in the province, and across the country. The provincial health authority said not all cases are fatal, but the agency was not available for comment on the number of deaths related to the infection.

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Click to play video: 'Six-year-old boy dies from aggressive form of strep A in Nova Scotia'
Six-year-old boy dies from aggressive form of strep A in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Health says some of the symptoms include:

  • High fever (worsening or persistent despite over-the-counter treatment)
  • Severe pain, swelling and redness of the affected area
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Rapidly spreading rash
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Severe pain in the arms, legs, neck or back
  • Dehydration
  • Changes in skin tone and colour

There were five deaths in the province last year — all over the age of 55. Illness rates are highest among children under 5 and adults 65 and up.

In Nova Scotia, the rates of iGAS have increased among all age groups since 2022.

The Department of Health and Wellness said that 94 iGAS cases were reported in 2023, with the highest rates occurring among the oldest and youngest populations.

The rates in 2023 were also higher than the previous five years.


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