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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

If You Believe That Everything Is Under Control In Toronto

Move along - don't dawdle looking at the coffins - it's just a typical virus - don't take off your face masks....

I am beginning to think that the authorities in Toronto suspect a SARS-like coronavirus to be involved in the Toronto outbreak. According to this article, one of the people who died was a staff member:
Since September 25, 84 people have become ill with the ailment, which is similar to SARS but which officials insist is not the fatal disease.
So far nine of the 10 fatalities have been senior citizens residing in a retirement home where the outbreak began, but one of the victims was a healthy staff member.
That must be the one who was hospitalized with pneumonia. This sounds like doubletalk:
Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David McKeown, admitted that Seven Oaks Home for the Aged has a "serious outbreak," but insisted that the dwindling number of new cases reported means the virus is on its way out.
"I would not be surprised if there were additional deaths," said Dr. McKeown, noting that the residents who have come down with the virus are elderly and frail.

Dr. McKeown was optimistic, however, because the number of new cases reported each day has dropped dramatically since the first symptoms were reported on Sept. 25. A peak number of 20 new cases were reported on Sept. 29. On Monday, there were two.

"We're confident that the outbreak is under control," he said. Test results have not yet come in on some specimens that were collected in the early days of the outbreak. Newer samples are also being tested, leading officials to believe they may still be able to pinpoint the virus.
Yesterday they said they might never be able to find the cause. I suppose that raised a few eyebrows.

They started contact tracing over the weekend, I believe, which means that in no way can they be confident that they have found all the people out there who have been infected with it. Plus, in just a few days 8 more staff have been added to the infected list, and that could result in a surge of cases outside the facility in another few days.

If you have 84 cases with 14 of them being either visitors or staff members, then you have a virus that's a problem for the community at large, because those staff members would have been out and about before they got ill. Most people infected with respiratory viruses are contagious for a day or two before they become ill. One-sixth of the cases are now people who were presumably healthy, so you can't put this in the "opportunistic virus" category. I hope this train of contagion stops, but no one can be confident that it is under control. It would require a week to two weeks to be sure it was dying out.

You wouldn't get such a high number of deaths among healthier populations, but if it is true that one of the 10 dead was an employee, then a 10% death rate among the healthier contingent is nothing to take comfort in.

If you are right- when do you suppose Toronto will go on the WHO travel ban list? What the hell are they waiting for?
I wrote about this mystery disease also, today, and wonder if having a vulnerable population of elderly people just propagates the virus. I sure would not want to be working there, spreading the virus from resident to resident.

Good post!
Bonita, That was my thought. Some one brought it in and it took off. I doubt they have an evil genius cooking up pathogens in the rec room, after all.

I wouldn't want to be spreading it either. They just started cohort nursing.

Bonita, you're not exactly flitzie!

SC&A, they should be able to contain it with contract tracing and monitoring. I have read a couple of Canadian medical types wanting more info, though.
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