Montreal public health monitoring of flesh-eating disease cases in Terrebonne

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Doctors in Terrebonne are concerned about a cluster of cases of flesh-eating disease after four people have been admitted to hospital over the past 10 days and one of them died.

Public health issued an alert to health-care workers in the province to be on the lookout and to investigate cases where the patient presents symptoms that could be flesh-eating disease.

Four recent cases of necrotizing fasciitis at Le Gardeur Hospital in Terrebonne, a northern suburb of Montreal, were not linked, meaning the patients weren’t in contact with each other.

The protocol for the immediate family is to be treated with antibiotics as a preventative measure.

Since health-care staff are required to declare the condition, public health is investigating. Since Jan. 1, there have been 332 cases in Quebec, which is almost as much as for all of the last year when, for the 12-month period, there were 395 cases.

What could explain the surge?

One doctor who spoke to CTV News said many comparisons of current illnesses in the past few years can be misleading because, during the pandemic, nearly everyone was wearing a mask and washing their hands more frequently. As public health measures have been lifted, certain illnesses can flare up again.

The condition is a fast-moving illness that comes from the same family of bacteria that causes strep throat.

Dr. Donald Vinh, an infectious disease expert at the McGill University Health Center (MUHC), said most cases occur after an injury to the skin that becomes red, followed by a rapidly developing illness.

“When I say rapidly, I mean a few hours to maybe a few days you are very sick, that area is extremely painful, you’re having fevers,” Vinh said.

Montreal Public Health told CTV News it was aware of the cases in Terrebonne but said there had been no known cases on the island.

The message from Vinh and others is to monitor any cuts, pay attention to them if they deteriorate quickly and, if that’s the case, to have them looking at by a health-care professional.