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Mystery Illness in Toronto Kills Healthy Staff Member

Recombinomics Commentary

October 5, 2005

So far nine of the 10 fatalities have been senior citizens residing in a retirement home where the outbreak began, but one of the victims was a healthy staff member.

The death of a healthy staff member is cause for concern.  Although daily press releases have provided basic numbers, the missing detail has created confusion.  It is unclear how many of the hospitalized are elderly residents, and how many are hospital staff or visitors.  The lowering of the infected vistors from 3 to 2 is also confusing.

More detail on the number of staff or visitors hospitalized would be useful as would more detail on the group of patients. It is unclear how many are in serious or critical condition or how many are on respirators.

More detail on how the illness is presenting or progressing would also be useful.

Failure to identify an etiological agent has cast doubt on the negative data on known pathogens.  The number of hospitalized residents, staff, and visitors suggests this is not a "garden variety" virus, and more detail on the patients would be useful to eliminate H5N1 or SARS-like coronaviruses as likely candidates.

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