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Son of strep victim doesn't blame home

RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 17:31 11/06/2014
resthome

TESTS: Five residents of Bishop Selwyn Lifecare died within a week after contracting strep A.

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The son of an elderly woman who died after an outbreak of strep A in a Christchurch rest home does not blame anyone for his mother's death.

Rae Shepherd, 97, was one of five Bishop Selwyn Lifecare residents, aged between 86 to 97 years, who died after being admitted to Christchurch Hospital since May 30.

Shepherd died on June 5.

A sixth resident remains in hospital in a stable condition.

John Shepherd could not believe his ''strong'' and "bubbly" 97-year-old mother died after catching strep A.

She had only been in care since September last year. 

He questioned whether if she had still been in her own home whether she would still be alive, but accepted it was just an unfortunate event.

''We are not in a position to blame anybody for it,'' he said.

"She was well cared for when she was in there."

Shepherd only learned about the outbreak after his mother's death, but was supportive of how the rest home handled the situation.

The remaining residents at the rest home, which is owned by Ultimate Care Group, have been swabbed and given antibiotics as a precaution despite no one else testing positive.

Ultimate Care Group general manager operations Ron Spraggon said it was difficult to trace how the infection had started as it could have been by someone who visited the home.

"We are extremely disappointed that this has happened and very sympathetic to the families of the people that have passed away and also to the others [residents]," he said.

Ultimate was working closely with the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) to ensure resident and staff safety, Spraggon said.

CDHB acting chief executive Mary Gordon said the response had been focused on halting transmission - by testing and treating anyone with symptoms or who had been in close contact with the patients, including relatives and hospital staff - using antibiotics as a preventative measure.

"The response to this outbreak has been a real team effort," Gordon said.

There were no new cases but results from throat swabs showed three hospital staff members had tested positive for strep A. Two of the three staff had skin swabs which showed the outbreak strain.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Ramon Pink said the long-term care facility had done everything right and it had responded exceptionally quickly.

STREPTOCOCCUS A

Strep A is more commonly associated with sore throats, rheumatic fever and skin infections. It is spread by droplet or by direct contact with an infected wound. Most infections are relatively mild illnesses such as strep throat or impetigo but on rare occasions, such as when the infection is in a frail, elderly person, an infant or someone with a weak immune system, these bacteria can cause severe and even life-threatening complications.

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