First Nation in Ontario declares state of emergency, looks to trace source of lung infections

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A First Nation in northern Ontario says it is working to trace the source of a fungus believed to be causing lung infections that has triggered a state of emergency in the community .

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The Constance Lake First Nation declared a state of emergency on Monday, saying many residents were believed to be ill with blastomycosis. The Nishnawabe Aski Nation, which represents the First Nation in northern Ontario, said Tuesday that there have been “sudden deaths” from possible cases of blastomycosis in the community.

Constance Lake chief Ramona Sutherland said in a video update that the community was working to determine what was causing the infection.


“We’re working really hard to find the source of this problem, control it and limit the risk of it, if not get rid of it,” she said in a video posted on Facebook on Monday. There are at least 11 different places.” in the community that has been identified for the sample.

“It’s getting a lot of people sick, so it must be somewhere in our reserve, in our community, or maybe all these people, we should find out if they are all intertwined … What is needed is the connection.”

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Blastomycosis is a lung infection usually caused by a fungus that grows in moist soil, leaves and rotting wood, and is spread when a person inhales tiny particles of the fungus into their lungs.

Symptoms can range from a mild cough that doesn’t go away to severe breathing problems. Some people may have no symptoms, while others may develop a long-term form of pneumonia.

Sutherland said the community, which is located near Hearst, Ont., is looking at evacuation plans as a precaution, but is not yet planning evacuations.

Meanwhile, she said people would be tested for blastomycosis and encouraged community members to seek medical help if they have any symptoms, including cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue, back pain, fever or chills.

“Just please go and get yourself checked out,” she said.

The grand head of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which represents 49 First Nations in northern Ontario, said his organization was “very concerned” with the situation in Constance Lake and called on the federal and provincial governments to help.

Grand Chief Derek Fox said in a written statement, “We look to our federal and provincial treaty partners to support Constance Lake with the resources needed to address this crisis, including health care, testing and mental health support.” “

Fox said Nishnawabe appreciates the support and support the Ask Nation community has received so far.

“We hope that environmental testing will help the community to understand and overcome the problem as quickly as possible,” he said.

This story was produced with financial support from Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.


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