Streptococcal outbreak: Everything is in place to stop it from spreading

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Major François Gagnon examining a patient.

Yves Bélanger - Servir newspaper

As is the case at the beginning of every year, the Saint-Jean Garrison andRoyal Military College Saint-Jean (RMC Saint-Jean) are currently dealing with several cases of streptococcal infection. The Senior Medical Officer at the Saint-Jean Garrison’s medical clinic, Major François Gagnon, plans to stop this new outbreak by putting in place various preventative measures, such as setting up hand sanitization stations.


Since January 29, the number of those infected has increased significantly. “Currently, over 50% of the bacteria screening tests done by the Health Services team have come back positive,” stated the Saint-Jean Garrison co-ordinator, Major Karine Thibault, during the week of February 12, in order to encourage civilian and military personnel, as well as students, to take adequate preventative measures.

Those who are most vulnerable are the candidates at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School (CFLRS) and the officer cadets at RMC Saint-Jean. The officer cadets live in close contact with each other, so their living conditions are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. “The bacteria is very contagious and is easily transmitted by respiratory droplets,” specified Maj Gagnon.


Maj Gagnon is working to stop the bacteria from spreading. “That’s why we’re implementing preventative measures immediately.” He is reminding people of the importance of washing your hands regularly, preferably with a disinfectant. “Coughing into your sleeve and wearing a mask when you have a cough are also great ways of stopping it from spreading.” In addition, switches, handrails and door handles should be disinfected regularly.

The Senior Medical Officer continued by encouraging those who have a fever or a sore throat to consult a doctor as soon as possible. “We also ask that they stay at home for 24 hours after starting antibiotics.” As for employees who have an immune system disorder, Maj Thibault suggested that they be assigned to duties that do not involve direct contact with CFLRS candidates.

In turn, the Saint-Jean Garrison’s medical clinic has changed its protocol in order to conduct screening tests faster than usual. “As soon as we have reason to believe that someone has a streptococcal infection, we do a test so that we can initiate the treatment as soon as possible,” explained the Senior Medical Officer.

Given the current situation, the Saint-Jean Garrison’s medical clinic is working closely with the Directorate of Force Health[EH1]  Protection’s epidemiology team, with Santé Publique Montérégie staff and with Haut-Richelieu Hospital. “I am confident that by adopting the preventative measures, we will succeed in stopping the outbreak so that it doesn’t spread like it did last year,” concluded Maj Gagnon.


Symptoms of streptococcal infection

-          Pain when swallowing

-          High fever

-          Swollen lymph nodes in the neck

-          Patches of pus on the tonsils or throat

-          Absence of a cough

-          Scarlet fever (rough, red patches on the skin)




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