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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.
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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.
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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.
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To the healthy individual, the term "flu season" may sound abstract, perhaps irrelevant. But the flu, or influenza, kills about 3,500 Canadians every year and causes about 12,200 of us to be hospitalized due to the illness itself or related complications.
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If you ever suspect that your doctor, nurse or other health-care provider forgot to use the hand sanitizer, by all means raise the question. But, in reality, most patients in your situation are reluctant to do so. Surveys going back almost a decade found that Ontario patients didn't want to be placed in the role of a police officer to ensure that doctors and nurses wash their hands.
For many people, coffee is the perfect way to start the day, end a meal, or help to recover after a long weekend. But while humans may tend to love the bitter flavour -- usually with some cream and sugar -- some insects find it toxic.
Based on the analysis, the length of time MRSA lingered in a home was between two and eight years. In the process, the bacteria simply transferred within the confines of the home. The presence of MRSA in the community, such as the home or public places, continues to be a concern for public health officials.
A study published last week suggested there may be reason to seek more sodium. According to the team of researchers, higher amounts of sodium (one of the two elements found in salt) in the diet may help to fight off skin infections. The results could translate into dietary changes to help prevent unwanted microbial dermal invasions.
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Antibiotics were the first and still are the go-to means of microbial distraction. However, in light of the continuing rise of antibiotic resistance, their usefulness is limited and we need to explore other options. One such ally is a living organism known to have just as much of a hatred for infectious bacteria: the bacteriophage.
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We now have greatly expanded infection control resources and expertise to help hospitals control disease outbreaks. We have a valuable and close working partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada. And finally, there are programs in place to respond to emergency situations, as well as stockpiles of emergency supplies, equipment and antiviral medications.
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Our efforts to stay clean have hampered us, leaving us with no opportunity for continual exposure to those lower levels of bacteria. As a result, when we do come into contact with them -- such as eating contaminated food -- we tend to have an increased chance of becoming ill.
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The information war over vaccination is an obvious reflection of this fear. Public health has had its hands full during this war, but has failed to really counter the misinformation in vaccine hesitant communities. We are in desperate need for a new message, and a group of high school students from California have made one in a most spectacular way. Despite the myth-makers, the spin addicts, and the conspiracy nuts, cigarette use has gone down, climate science has become even more exact, and vaccines have been shown to be both safe and effective.
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We wait until newborns are two months old before giving them their first shots. Some people have underlying medical conditions that prevent them from getting vaccinated. And in rare instances a vaccination just might not be effective in any given individual. So those of us who can vaccinate our children really should.
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Finally we have Wylde's first suggestion, the one that made me believe it is just sitting in his kitchen making this up out of thin air. There is absolutely no evidence adding petroleum jelly to the inside of your nose will increase your infection barrier and prevent infection. Your nose is much larger than just the nostril you can stick the swab into, so there will be plenty of area left to harbour virus.
Bad gift-giving, whether material or microbial, should never happen. While there may never be a means to prevent waking up to a disappointing present under the tree, you can minimize the possibility of sharing infection. Hopefully, with these five steps, you can set aside the worry and focus on the spirit of the holiday season.
In the microbial world, gift wrapping -- better known as cellular packaging -- is also considered to be an art. All germs perform some aspects of packaging but the masters are without a doubt the viruses. Viruses are unique from all other germs in that they don't start to thrive until they have entered a host cell.
As the primary breadwinner for my family, I worked full-time. I had two baby girls 18 months apart. In each case, I continued working until the day before I gave birth and returned to work a mere six weeks after. I committed myself to nursing my babies, even when I had to resort to expressing milk on the road.
February 4 of this year was a momentous day for numismatists as the Canadian Mint officially stopped distribution of the one-cent coin, the penny. While the reaction from Canadians was mixed, there was a general consensus that the loss was still a sad end to a 105-year era. The moment was also a sombre day for those striving to improve public health.
The norovirus infection is short, lasting only 48 to 72 hours but during that time, one might believe they have been put into one of Ridley Scott's Alien movies. But there are thankfully a few ways to thwart this perfect villain.
Last week, the analysis of this incredibly chilling illness made headlines worldwide. To better appreciate the potential impact of Ebola and other infectious diseases, such as SARS, HIV, and pandemic flu, a University of Ottawa researcher has taken a look at a much more devious disease, which continues to spread worldwide with apparently no end in sight. Bieber Fever.
Just as Health Canada is considering approval of the first vaccine that would prevent the devastating disease that is Meningitis B, information from a recent study analyzing long-term affects of Men B on its victims should send a chill up our -- ironically enough -- spines.