Ward Closed At Hamilton’s St. Joseph’s Healthcare Due To A Strep

special to Digital Journal:

Hamilton, Ontario’s Mountain Campus of St. Joseph’s Healthcare has closed one of its psychiatric wards due to an outbreak of Invasive Group A Streptococcus. The unit which is normally locked down houses elderly mentally ill patients.
One patient, an elderly person, died of the infection in early March. It has been confirmed that the patient contracted a bacterial infection that in rare cases can cause septic shock and flesh-eating disease. One other case is that of a staff member who has been treated with antibiotics. That case happened at the end of March. The staff person has completed a course of antibiotics and has returned to work. Until typing of the staff person has been completed it is not known if the two cases are related.

During a telephone interview, Manager of Public Affairs Kyla Kumar said that the typing should be completed by the end of the week.

At this time none of the 35 patients nor the 30-35 staff members who work on the ward are showing symptoms according to Kumar. The testing of the staff has yet to be completed. It is expected that by the end of the week all of the staff will have been screened. All of the patients within the unit have already undergone the screening process. Until the results have returned the unit will not be accepting new patients.

“It is public health protocol that when two cases of Invasive Group A Streptococcus are identified on one unit within a 30 day period, an outbreak is declared,” Ms. Kumar said.

The unit that has been closed to new admissions is a locked unit. The patients have been allowed to continue activities such as occupational therapy that are part of their therapy off of the unit according to Ms. Kumar.

Visitors are allowed on the unit but must follow strict hand washing guidelines.

“The staff, patients and their family members have been more than understanding during this time,” says Kumar.

What is Group A Streptococcus?

Group A Streptococcus – (GAS) is a bacteria that is normally found in the nose and throat of 10 per cent of children and 1 per cent of adults, without causing illness. When they do cause illness, the resulting diseases is classified into one of two categories; Invasive or Non‐Invasive.

Invasive Group A Streptococcus infections are systemic and occur in the blood stream while Non‐invasive Group A Streptococcus infections are localized at the wound site.

The Group A Streptococcus bacteria is spread by direct contact with large droplet secretions from the nose and throat of an infected person, or from contact of mucous membranes or broken skin secretions from infected sores on the skin. It is rarely spread by casual contact or by contact with objects or through the air.


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