Strawtown: Mystery illness in Prince Edward Island spreading

[Episcopal/Delaware:] In recent years, Prince Edward Island has seen what the provincial health board calls a “vast increase” in the number of cases of the mysterious illness. In most cases, young people contract polio-like…

Strawtown: Mystery illness in Prince Edward Island spreading

[Episcopal/Delaware:] In recent years, Prince Edward Island has seen what the provincial health board calls a “vast increase” in the number of cases of the mysterious illness.

In most cases, young people contract polio-like conditions. Now the total number is up to 37 and the source is becoming more widely known.

William McKinley, Cof. Dept. of Health and Wellness, reports the Royal Town of Charlottetown found traces of the infectious agent causing the disease near a sewage treatment plant and during two sewer interceptor overflows in October of 2016. However, the entire health board, including senior officials, has for more than a year insisted these were isolated incidents and not the beginning of an illness epidemic.

In their report, Cof. Health & Wellness asserts “in all of the cases that we have had in the last two years, we have been able to establish that the cause was the same as the one that was found at the sewage treatment plant.”

The report also says:

A total of 14 cases have been diagnosed of nervous system and respiratory conditions…

33 cases in 12 months have a genetic source…

Each case has been treated with immunoglobulin or cyclosporine to prevent further clinical manifestation.

The department acknowledges there are “many other” cases that have not been reported. The report says physicians “do not do a good job at reporting their cases to us, partly because of a lack of resources.” The health board also says families are reluctant to report to the government because of negative comments from relatives.

For its part, the island province says it has shut down ten outfall pipes and “post-testing” showed 17 other areas on the island with still-active sewage release pipes.

In recent months, the provincial health board estimates that 490,000 gallons of raw sewage per day still flow onto the island, as well as directly into the St. Lawrence River and Lake Babine.

After a leaked report from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care provided a clearer picture of the six-year-old disease, dozens of staff and parents have had personal health screenings. Some individuals may need to get a disability assessment and children diagnosed with polio-like illness require an infusion of anti-viral medications. The report also says some of the most recent cases have been associated with acute flaccid myelitis and acute otitis media, a respiratory illness.

From this, officials know the disease that is so rare in the island nation is likely changing the health of islanders.

“Treating related cases is a cost of $15 million per year, and it is a real challenge to get people together to improve quality of care and ensure the system is flexible enough to respond to outbreaks,” the report said.

Meantime, the province says it is “preparing a report that will lay out information on the health of the entire island… and will have a clearer picture of what’s happening in the more remote parts of the island where cases are harder to diagnose.”

Thomas Chu for The Epoch Times

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