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Infectious illness that can cause amputations identified in Manitoba, prompts warning

The Manitoba government is warning the public that it is seeing an increase in cases of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD), along with the bacteria that causes strep throat in the past month.

According to a bulletin released Thursday afternoon, eight cases of invasive meningococcal disease have been identified in Manitoba in the past month. The province said there are typically six cases reported annually.

Six of the cases involve adults, while two are in children. The province said six of the people infected live in Winnipeg, while one lives in the Northern Health Region and the other lives in the Prairie Mountain Health Region. At this time, there are no known links between cases.

The province said the infections typically present either as meningitis or an infection in the bloodstream. Symptoms include a dark purple rash, a high fever, a severe headache, stiff neck, upset stomach, and severe aches or pains.

“It can result in serious outcomes including amputations and in about 10 per cent of cases, can result in death,” the province said. “Rapid treatment is necessary including antibiotics and other care, depending on the symptoms.”

The province has also seen an increase among invasive group A streptococcal (iGAS) infections. This bacteria causes mild illnesses, such as strep throat, but can become life threatening if it is found in areas of the body it is not normally found, such as the blood or the lungs. Severe cases can cause necrotizing fasciitis, streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, or meningitis, and will need to be treated with antibiotics.

“While there is not a current cluster or outbreak of cases, Manitoba has seen an increase in reported iGAS cases post-pandemic, a trend that has been seen in other jurisdictions,” the province said in a news release, saying 200 cases were reported in 2023.

The province said severe infections are most often seen when there is an increased spread of respiratory virus. It said Manitobans should make sure they’re up to date on their vaccines, as it can help reduce the risk of serious infection.

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