Friday, August 29, 2008

Canadian Health Concerns

There have been a couple of items in the news recently regarding Canadian health issues. Both of them have been touched on before (which should come as no surprise - we're visionaries here at the Bayblab).

The first is Listeria which began with an outbreak which left one dead and several others ill and the subsequent product recall and shutdown of the Toronto Maple Leaf production facility. We've tackled Listeria before, and discussed some of the strategies companies use to minimize contamination - mainly sanitary design and proper cleaning. In the US, bacteriophage are also used for Listeria management. In Canada, we have yet to adopt these measures:
[Retired Health Canada microbiologist and food inspector Bill] Riedel said Canada needs a system like one approved in the United States two years ago, in which bacteriophage therapy is used to combat Listeria monocytogenes found in foods. Bacteriophages are viruses that infect and destroy bacteria.
As of Wednesday, the number of deaths caused by the outbreak was 6, with 10 others under investigation. Major fast-food chains McDonalds and Mr. Sub were affected by the recall. I wonder if bacteriophage technology would have prevented this outbreak, and if the death toll and economic impact will accelerate a move towards it.

Second up is the mumps outbreak in western Canada. I've written about disease resurgance before, usually measles. This time it's mumps. Close to 200 cases have been reported in the Chilliwack region of British Columbia - a province that typically sees no more than 5 cases per year (according to
Of the 191 cases reported so far since the outbreak began in Chilliwack in February, 10 to 20 are still active. Half of the people who have been infected have not been immunized, a quarter have had at least one shot and a quarter do not have vaccination records, Dr. Brodkin said. One person developed meningitis, nine suffered hearing loss and 26 had swollen testicles or ovaries. It is not clear how many of those cases will result in permanent deafness or sterility.
Officials fear that up to two-thirds of cases are going undetected and continue to spread the virus. The outbreak has been linked to religious groups in the area who are opposed to vaccination due to their beliefs.


Anonymous said...

As if the cost of ignorance was not enough to select against religion. Getting the mumps should cure that meme pretty fast.

Anonymous said...

Sure - as well as immune-compromised people who can't get vaccinated, infants too young to be vaccinated, etc. Great thinking.