Telkwa Mayor Darcy Repen has returned to council after taking a medical leave at the beginning of April for invasive Strep A disease.
Repen spent three weeks in Terrace and Smithers hospitals to receive IV antibiotic treatment.
Strep A infections are caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes, group A according to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).
Generally, Strep A infections lead to mild illnesses such as strep throat or impetigo. Invasive Strep A disease occurs when the bacteria invades the lungs, blood, or spread along the layers of tissue that surround muscle.
This can result in life-threatening conditions such as septicemia (blood-poisoning), meningitis (inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spine) and necrotizing faciitis, also known as the “flesh-eating disease” according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Strep A is transmitted through direct contact with or inhalation of discharges or droplets from an infected person’s nose or mouth. According to the BCCDC there were 406 confirmed cases of invasive Strep A disease in B.C. in 2017, which works out to an incidence rate of approximately eight cases of the disease per 100,000 people. This is the highest rate of the disease since it became reportable in 1997.
“It was a close call and kind of a scary period there but I’m very, very thankful that I had the medical help that I had and the medical system that we have here in Canada to support me through it,” Repen said. “It’s good to be back and busy again. I’m definitely very happy to be on the recovery path that I am.”
Deputy Mayor Leroy Dekens served as the acting mayor in Repen’s absence.
Repen semi-finalist in global competition
In Repen’s spare time, when he isn’t battling rare life-threatening diseases, he likes to tackle global threats to humanity.
Last September the Village of Telkwa mayor submitted a proposal to the Global Challenges Foundation’s New Shape Prize competition. New Shape Prize seeks innovative and cooperative ideas to reshape global governance in order to solve mankind’s most dire problems such as climate change, extreme poverty, and politically or racially motivated violence.
The competition received more than 2,700 submissions from 122 countries. The authors of the three winning entries received $600,000.
Repen’s was one of the 64 semi-finalists.
Repen proposed the creation of an advisory body to the United Nations (UN) that is not subject to the political influence of its national representatives. The advisory body would have the capacity to creatively explore new ideas to resolve global challenges.
Repen said he came up with the basis of the idea while apple picking just before his trip to the Union of B.C. Municipalities Convention, but didn’t plan on entering the contest because he had limited knowledge of the UN.
Later that same night Repen couldn’t stop thinking about the idea and ended up writing 3,000 words on the topic.
While at the convention Repen skipped dinners and galas to research and work on the proposal. He submitted his idea four hours before the deadline.
“It was quite a surprise when they came back and selected me as a semi-finalist,” Repen said. “I think it’s a very important initiative that they’re doing, not necessarily my top priority, but it was a good exercise and thought experiment to look at a problem like that.”
Repen’s entire proposal can be found on the Global Challenges Foundation’s website.