A doctor working with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) in Saskatchewan is urging caution to residents in and around Onion Lake First Nation following two people contracting a rare, deadly bacterial infection.
Medical health officer Dr. Ibrahim Khan wrote a letter to the chief of the Onion Lake First Nation that said both patients were admitted to medical facilities shortly after New Years Day with diphtheria.
He said one patient is under 18, while the other is an adult and was suffering from skin abrasions, which Khan said is rare for that disease.
In the letter, he said the disease is very uncommon in the province and can lead to “severe complications like breathing problems, heart failure, and paralysis, and without appropriate treatment can result in death.”
He applauded the medical team in Onion Lake saying they contained the infection and made sure everyone in the community was aware of the risk and vaccinated.
“Everybody gets that vaccination and they have that protection. That’s why we don’t see it. We don’t see that many measles cases. We don’t see that many prostatitis cases and we do not see any tetanus cases because there is a good immunization for it. A good vaccination for it (and) people are aware of it,” he told Global News.
He said other local agencies, like pharmacies, made sure those on the front lines were supplied if they came across someone who wasn’t vaccinated.
The letter to Chief Henry Louis said vaccination is the best method for preventing diphtheria and that the disease could virtually be eradicated if everyone who could be vaccinated received the shot.
He said the target is for 97 per cent of the population to receive the vaccination to prevent further spread in the community and noted the rates in Onion Lake are below that benchmark.
Global News reached out to the Onion Lake First Nation but did not hear back before deadline.