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A need exists for rapid change in the social mindset of the next generation on antibiotics. If our youth do not appreciate the challenges facing public health officials today, they may end up living under the shadow of untreatable bacterial infections known as the post-antibiotic era.
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Mosquito bites are a part of Canadian living. Usually, the only consequence of an unwanted invasion is an itchy welt. However, over the last decade, the consequences have become significantly greater due to the emergence of several viruses.
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As a physician, I see the illnesses caused by vaccine-preventable diseases. No child should suffer from a disease that can be prevented by vaccines. I also see children who can't be immunized because of a medical condition such as cancer, and who rely on others around them to be immunized so the virus or bacteria does not spread. We all play an important role in preventing infections that we once feared.
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At its core, antibiotic resistance is merely a coping mechanism. Bacteria are faced with a rather dire form of stress and need to find a way to cope. They can take the biological route of genetic mutation to render the drug useless. They also can gain a plasmid from the environment or another bacterium, to gain resistance mechanisms.
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In Canada, the December marks the arrival of several infectious respiratory viruses, such as the dreaded influenza virus. Depending on what part of the country you call home, other names such as rhinovirus, adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, coronavirus, and human metapneumovirus are circulating amongst the population.
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As the temperature continues to plunge this winter, many Canadians will turn to scarves -- and more recently necktubes -- to keep their necks and faces warm. These swatches of fabric ensure those areas left open by jackets and coats are kept safe from the prevailing winds and wayward flakes of snow. Yet, they may serve another purpose as protectors of our health.
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By adding hundreds of species to the colon, the bacterium simply cannot compete and ends up losing its grip on the gut. Eventually, the infection clears and the individual returns to normal.
While our thoughts may focus on the moments in which soldiers have gone to battle to face a known enemy, we tend to forget another kind of foe facing the troops. This one isn't human, however, it's microbial. Indeed, infectious diseases have claimed millions of lives and at times left those who fight in dire straits.
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Drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) is a perfect example of the threat posed by "Antimicrobial Resistance" (AMR). The most common form drug-resistant TB is multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB), which means that TB bacteria are resistant to two of the best first-line antibiotics -- isoniazid and rifampicin.
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There are many welcome hallmarks to summer, such as the longer days and pleasant temperatures. Yet, summer also brings unwanted risks like damaging storms, oppressive heat waves, forest fires, and drought. One of the least favoured recurrences is the rise in mosquito populations and the potential for West Nile Virus infection.
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Last week they published an examination of vaccine hesitancy in Canada. Based on their results, the reasons behind the concern over vaccine may be far more troublesome than anyone believed.
Although we may believe ourselves to be nothing more than visitors, when it comes to infectious disease, we may play a much greater role than believed. It's why a visit to a travel doctor both before and after the trip is not only a good idea, but also may help to preserve an environment for the future.
Gods in Shackles
It's World Tuberculosis Day, and this year it will be marked with the sad distinction that we have allowed this preventable, curable disease to become the world's biggest infectious killer. The millennia-old disease tuberculosis (TB) now outranks even HIV/AIDS in the number of lives it claims, at over 1.5 million a year. With leading experts predicting that by 2050 evolving strains of drug-resistant TB could claim an additional 75 million lives worldwide -- costing the global economy $16.7 trillion -- the need for immediate action is clear.
The fate of an elephant named Thiruvambadi Ramabadhran hangs in the balance. His trunk is paralyzed. Unable to eat or drink he stands helplessly, as his handlers are engaged in their own chats. To make matters worse, he has contracted infectious foot and skin diseases, and has been placed in solitary confinement.