Health officials identify two rare cases of diphtheria in Saskatchewan

ONION LAKE, Sask. — Health officials say two cases of diphtheria have been diagnosed in western Saskatchewan.

A medical health officer for Indigenous Services Canada recently sent a notice to the chief of Onion Lake Cree Nation, near the Saskatchewan-Alberta boundary, informing him that the cases were diagnosed in the last month.

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The First Nation's director of operations says one confirmed case was in Onion Lake while the other was in the surrounding area.

Philip Chief says he doesn't have details but it's concerning.

The notice says people may be at risk of infection, because the vaccination rate for diphtheria in the Onion Lake area is below the desired target.

Chief says reserve staff have been informed and will be asking members to ensure they are updated on their immunization and booster shots.

Health officials say diphtheria is a rare but infectious disease that is preventable through vaccines.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2020

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