More than 17 students confirmed ill with deadly STDs at Toronto schools

After months of investigation, hundreds of affected students are learning the true extent of the numbers.

Ontario health officials have now declared the total number of outbreaks at three schools in Toronto is 17 — up from an initial count of 10. The four additional schools were identified as Erindale Collegiate Institute, Trinity College, Yorkridge Collegiate Institute and Princess Margaret.

The Toronto District School Board did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The preliminary tally released Thursday only counted instances of the potentially deadly virus at two schools: Copper Hill Collegiate Institute and Queen’s Park Collegiate Institute. It does not account for 17 additional cases as a result of further investigation.

Of the 17 schools, Copper Hill and Queen’s Park are located in areas where the following viruses and common staphylococcus infections have been detected in students: Group A Staphylococcus and Enterococcus, and Streptococcus faecalis. The third, Yorkridge, is in the east end of the city; Queen’s Park is in the west end.

At Queen’s Park, 25 to 30 students have been confirmed with one or more outbreaks of hand, foot and mouth disease, a common bacterial illness also known as “fungus eye,” health officials said. Their symptoms include a rash that can appear on the skin, red, blistered eye or a red spot on the eyelid. The school will now conduct extensive cleaning with new sanitizing solution and will take other measures to reduce the number of symptoms.

“That’s why we recommend people keep their children home to keep them out of the risk” said Dr. Jason Taylor, medical officer of health for Toronto Public Health. “Particularly if they’re sick with the fever.”

Parents who were not able to retrieve their children from Queen’s Park before the end of school Thursday afternoon and face other restrictions may still change their child’s location to avoid pick-up issues, he said.

Queen’s Park is a Catholic school and there is no vaccine to protect students from polio, the measles, and the enterovirus 67.

An outbreak of the human papillomavirus at Silver Creek High School has also been confirmed, health officials said.

At Anderson Heights Collegiate Institute, some individuals have tested positive for the three leading causes of pneumonia, three cases of whooping cough, as well as one adult.

On Thursday evening, nearly 200 people gathered at Queen’s Park for a rally in support of the students impacted by the outbreak. The event was organized by students from nearby schools.

In an effort to increase their chances of survival from current outbreaks, various school systems around the country are encouraging public health officials to consider certain vaccination options. For example, in Canada, being under the age of 26 gives some school attendees the opportunity to receive the pneumococcal vaccine, which protects against pneumococcal disease.

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