Public Health Achievement #2: Control of infectious diseases

Note: I’m not sure how, but I completely managed to miss writing about the February public health achievement during February. So I’m writing this in late March (because I suck) and back dating the post so it will show up in February in my blog archives. Because I’m not above back dating, apparently.

February great public health achievement badge

One of my favourite courses in all of my undergraduate degree program was virology. I remember being in first year and reading through the courses I would be taking over the next four years and seeing it listed as a Biochem course I could elect to time in my final year and being super excited. And when it finally came to be fourth year, the course did not disappoint. To this day I still have a love for viruses – especially ebola and dengue!  But while I love to learn about viruses, I certainly don’t want to be infected with anyone of them!  Which is why I’m glad that Public Health has made great strides in the Control of Infectious Diseases, which just so happens to be the February theme for the 12 great public health achievements in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Public Health Association.

Some random interesting facts about infectious diseases:

  • 28% of Canadian troops returning from WWI were infected with syphilis and/or gonorrhoea

  • In 1997, a new surge of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)1) started, notably of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis. These diseases are preventable and treatable, but we need to ensure that we promote “disease prevention and effective, non-judgemental public education” to keep these diseases under control.
  • The first known outbreak of polio in Canada occurred in 1910
  • ~11,000 people in Canada were  paralyzed by polio between 1949 and 1954. Thanks to the creation and widespread use of polio vaccines, Canada was declared polio-free in 1994.
  • Despite a significant drop in rates of tuberculosis in Canada as a result of the use of antibiotics to treat TB, rates still remain high among Aboriginal people.  In 2008, the TB rate among Aboriginal people was ~6X more than  the overall Canadian rate. In Nunavut, the rate of TB was more than 38 times (!) the national rate. Immediate improvements in health and social conditions are needed to reduce this inequity.

Stuff you can do:

  • Education yourself about, and protect yourself against, STIs.
  • Advocate for measures to eliminate the health inequities (of which TB is just one) between Aboriginal people and the rest of the Canadian population.
  1. formerly known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and before that as venereal disease (VD []

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