Flesh Eating Disease in Canada

As mentioned in an earlier post, early diagnosis of the flesh-eating disease is very crucial; if it’s not diagnosed early, the person infected can die immediately (within 12-24 hours). However, early diagnosis may not be enough to save a person if complications prevent a sick person’s recovery.

This appears to be the case of 33-year-old Jennifer Cormier McFarlane who valiantly fought the disease but who eventually succumbed after 15 months.

From the Red Deer Advocate:

Jennifer Cormier McFarlane, 33, died June 21 in an Edmonton hospital. She went to the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre with what she thought was a serious flu on April 6, 2008.

Her mother Joanne Anderson of Calgary credits staff at Red Deer hospital for quickly diagnosing the disease. “Diagnosis is the hard part. You’re usually gone before they find it,” Anderson said on Monday.

McFarlane spent four months in intensive care and underwent several surgeries, including the amputation of her left leg. She would show improvement and then face another complication.

“It was just torture for that whole time. It was like a roller coaster. There were so many surgeries and so many ongoing problems,” her mother said.

She couldn’t stay on intravenous nourishment long enough to repair the damage to her bowel. Her kidneys quit at Christmas. Dr. Martin Lavoie, medical officer of health with the central zone of Alberta Health Services, said is it unusual to be in hospital for so long due to the disease.

“It must have been quite a severe case with many complications,” Lavoie said.

Some data you might be interested in about the flesh-eating disease in Alberta, Canada: From 2003 to 2005, Alberta had 437 invasive GAS cases, found mostly in people over 30. Twenty people died.