Information event planned on deadly blasto infections becoming increasingly common on Island

LITTLE CURRENT—Following this newspaper’s pledge last fall to work with the Sudbury and District Health Unit (SDHU) to host a spring blastomycosis information session, a date has been set for Wednesday, June 8 at the Northeast Town council chambers in downtown Little Current at 7 pm.

The condition has most recently been contracted in communities along Manitoulin’s eastern shore including Wikwemikong, Sheguiandah, McGregor Bay and Birch Island.

It is in the spring, summer or fall that most people will come into contact with the fungal spore, most typically while working outdoors with rotted wood or while in the garden. The incubation period of blastomycosis is usually between three and 15 weeks with symptoms often mimicking influenza with fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, joint pain and chest pain. An unshakeable cough is also most common, but it can sometimes also spread to the skin, bones and brain.

Blastomycosis is also responsible for taking the lives of two women in the last two years: Gwen Young of Sheguiandah and Robina Lee Kitchemokman-Owl of Birch Island, as well as causing many people to become ill, some of whom were profiled in this newspaper. The disease has also killed countless Manitoulin pets and made many more sick.

The June 8 presentation will involve members of the SDHU, a Manitoulin Health Centre physician and an Island veterinarian which will speak on how to protect oneself, one’s animals, as well as the signs and symptoms of blastomycosis. A question and answer period will round out the evening. Refreshments will be served.

Join us at the Northeast Town council chambers (the Little Current post office building) on Wednesday, June 8 at 7 pm.