‘Don’t sit on it,’ warns woman whose husband died of Strep A

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Kim Wetmore is urging people to go to the hospital or get a test if you have symptoms of Strep A. She doesn’t want people to go through the same pain she’s going through now.

Her husband, Dan Wetmore, died of Strep A in Moncton, New Brunswick on January 19 at the age of 49. He had been ill for over a week.

“Putting it off and putting it off and putting it off, it ended his life,” Wetmore said.

Canada sees a record number of cases of invasive group A streptococcus, a bacterial infection that kills about one in 10 people who contract it, according to data obtained by CBC News. There have been more than 4,600 confirmed cases in Canada in 2023.

Invasive group A streptococcal disease occurs when the common streptococcal A bacteria spreads beyond the places it typically infects, such as the throat or skin, where it can cause necrotizing fasciitis, known as the disease. carnivorous.

An electron microscope image shows a group A streptococcus during a phagocytic interaction with a human neutrophil.
This image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows an electron microscope image of a group A streptococcus (orange) during a phagocytic interaction with a human neutrophil (blue). (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/Associated Press)

Dan Wetmore’s death is part of an outbreak of streptococcal infections in New Brunswick. According to information from the Ministry of Health on January 12, there have already been two more deaths from Strep A in the province.

Dr. Yves Léger, the province’s interim chief medical officer of health, called the situation a “concerning trend” earlier this month.

Get sick

Kim said her husband started feeling sick on January 8. It started with a sore throat. That weekend, he decided not to work at Kurt’s Sausages at the Moncton Market. It wasn’t something he usually lacked.

WATCH | Serious streptococcal infections on the rise:

Serious Strep A infections are on the rise

Doctors say they are seeing many more invasive Strep A infections, caused by a bacteria that typically leads to milder illnesses. But in some cases it can enter the bloodstream and quickly become fatal.

“It was his time…He wanted to be with Kurt’s family at this barbecue and be with all these people,” Wetmore said. “It was his retirement, you would say, I guess. He loved it.”

But he just felt tired, and if it was contagious, he didn’t want to make anyone else sick. By the end of the week, he was starting to feel better. He went to work on Monday, but then felt unwell and took the rest of the week off. He was tired, his body ached and he was vomiting.

Strep bacteria spots spread on a yellow background, as seen under a microscope.
A microscopic view of the Streptococcus bacteria, which can cause a wide range of illnesses, from milder infections like strep throat to life-threatening illnesses. (Josef Reischig/WikiCommons)

“I said, ‘I think you need to go to the hospital.’ And he said, ‘No, it’s just the flu,'” Wetmore said.

But it got worse. At 6 a.m. on January 19, Dan called 911.

When Kim arrived at the hospital, she was told that her husband had Strep A. Dan was taken to the intensive care unit. He died this afternoon.

A smile on his face

Since Dan’s passing, Kim Wetmore has had the support of her family and the community. People she didn’t know came to see her.

“I knew what kind of person he was… But I didn’t really know the kind of impact he had on people,” she said.

She said hundreds of people were at the wake Tuesday and the funeral service was standing room only.

She said one man stood out to her. He cried in front of her for the first few minutes. He said his son had died and that when he talked to Dan at the market, Dan comforted and encouraged him.

“The only thing people said was he always had a smile on his face,” Wetmore said.

A man stands next to his son who is wearing a graduation outfit.
Kim says Dan was very close to Zach. The two worked at Kurt’s Sausages every Saturday. (Kim Wetmore)

Do not wait

After Kim learned her husband had Strep A, she had to take a pill, was given a prescription and told to self-isolate.

“It’s just going to be constantly running through my head. Do I have something?” Wetmore said.

The day of the wake, Kim’s brother tested positive for Strep A. He wasn’t feeling well, so he went to get tested. He caught it in time and was able to take antibiotics.

But she said her brother probably wouldn’t have cared if it wasn’t for what happened to Dan.

Earlier in January, Leger urged people to take steps to protect themselves and others from serious group A streptococcal infections and other respiratory illnesses.

A man poses for a portrait.
Dr. Yves Léger says the increase in cases of Streptococcus A is a worrying trend. (Shane Magee/CBC)

He said that may include staying home when sick, wearing a mask in public, washing your hands and staying up to date on vaccines.

Symptoms may include a sore throat, fever, rash or skin infection that is red, swollen, warm and tender to the touch, according to the province’s website.

“Don’t sit on it, like people can’t sit on it,” Wetmore said. “They need to go. This is not something to play with. This is not a joke.”

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