- Public health officials are investigating seven deaths
and dozens of infections after an outbreak of a SARS-like respiratory illness
hit a B.C. nursing home.
- The illness struck Kinsman Place Lodge in the Vancouver
suburb of Surrey, infecting 97 out of 142 residents and 46 of 160 staff
members since early July, Shaun Peck, B.C. deputy medical health officer,
told a news conference on Thursday.
- Staff and residents infected by the illness showed mild,
cold-like symptoms such as runny nose but no fever -ó a symptom
associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome. The majority of residents
and staff have now fully recovered and none of the staff required hospitalization,
public health officials said.
- "There have been seven deaths, although only three
of them have been directly associated with a respiratory illness,"
Dr. Peck told the news briefing. Pneumonia was a contributing factor in
those three deaths. Two of the deaths being probed were patients already
in palliative care and the other two were from vascular causes.
- Officials said nursing homes such as the Kinsman Place
Lodge can normally average four to five deaths a month.
- B.C. officials stressed that it was not another outbreak
of SARS, which has killed more than 40 people in the Toronto area so far
this year. However, they said they are taking precautionary measures and
treating the outbreak like the deadly disease until they know more about
- "As a precautionary measure and in addition to the
infection control measures already in place, Kinsmen Place Lodge will be
considered a site where transmission of SARS virus may have occurred in
residents or visitors since July 1, 2003," health authorities said
in a news release.
- The Fraser Health Authority is working with the B.C.
Centre for Disease Control , the Provincial Health Officer and Health Canada
to conclusively identify the cause of the outbreak.
- Tests performed by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg
have yielded a range of results for possible viruses, including some positive
results for both a virus similar to the SARS coronavirus and human metapnuemavirus.
- "These laboratory findings are surprising given
the nature of the outbreak," said David Patrick, director of epidemiology
at B.C. Centre for Disease Control. "The symptoms and progression
of illness are not consistent with SARS infection and there is no evidence
anyone related to the outbreak has travelled to an affected area or had
contact with a SARS case."
- Dr. Patrick added: "While the virus looks like the
SARS coronavirus, it doesn't appear to act like the SARS virus we've come
- Since the outbreak was first identified, Kinsmen Place
Lodge has had visiting and admissions restrictions in place, including
isolating residents who have shown symptoms of the illness. Staff at the
facility have also been directed not to work at different facilities and
sick staff told not to work.
- "Until such time as we determine the cause through
sound medical and clinical research, we are erring on the side of caution,"
said Roland Guasparini, medical health officer for Fraser Health Authority.
- The outbreak peaked in late July and has since tapered
off, with the last person developing symptoms three days ago, public health
- Dr. Guasparini said the public should take normal precautions
against the new illness, such as reducing contact with others if one has
cold symptoms and maintaining hygiene.
- Anyone who has visited Kinsmen Place Lodge after July
1 and has developed a cough and fever over 38 degrees is asked to contact
BC NurseLine, by calling 1-866 215-4700 (within the province), or (604)
215-4700 (within the greater Vancouver area).
- A handful of people in the Vancouver area contracted
SARS during last spring's outbreak. But unlike Toronto, there were no deaths
and no wider spread of the disease.
- With a report from Canadian Press
- © 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights