Health officials identify two rare cases of diphtheria in Saskatchewan First Nation

(Henry Lewis (left) is chief of Onion Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan. APTN file)


Two rare but potentially deadly cases of diphtheria have been diagnosed in a western Saskatchewan First Nation.

They were discovered last month, confirms a letter from Dr. Ibrahim Khan, regional medical health officer for First Nations and Inuit Health Branch in Saskatchewan.

One case was in Onion Lake and the other from the surrounding area.

Health officials in the community near the Saskatchewan-Alberta boundary flagged the bacterial infection immediately after the two patients – one a minor and one an adult – were admitted to medical facilities.

Community members are being asked to ensure they are updated on their immunization and booster shots after Khan noted in a letter to Chief Henry Lewis that vaccination rates for diphtheria in Onion Lake “are currently below this 97 per cent target.”

Khan says “diphtheria is very infectious and can lead to severe complications like breathing problems, heart failure and paralysis, and without appropriate treatment can result in death.”

He added those at highest risk are “the very young and the elderly.”


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With files by The Canadian Press

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