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15,000 Ottawa children missed measles vaccine during pandemic, says OPH



Thousands of children lack protection against measles and other diseases in Ottawa because they didn’t receive routine vaccinations during the pandemic, according to new data from Ottawa Public Health (OPH).

OPH gauges vaccine uptake by tracking the number of vaccine supply orders it receives from health-care providers who administer shots.

The latest data available suggest orders for the MMR vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella, along with the MMR-V vaccine that protects those three diseases plus varicella (chickenpox), decreased by 30 per cent in 2020 compared to the typical number of orders in pre-pandemic years.

Orders for the measles-containing vaccine continued to slump in 2022 compared years prior to 2020 — down between 10 and 20 per cent, said OPH.

Vaccines given to babies under one year of age remained relatively stable whereas vaccines that include boosters given to older children and youth, like the measles-containing vaccines MMR and MMR-V, saw marked declines during the pandemic. (Ottawa Public Health )

“Based on this distribution data, we estimate approximately 15,000 kids in Ottawa missed receiving a dose of MMR or MMR-V between 2020 and 2022,” said an OPH spokesperson in an email to CBC.

Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease that used to infect most children until a vaccine was introduced in the 1960s.

According to Public Health Ontario measles remains the leading global cause of death in children by a vaccine-preventable disease — an average of one to two children die for every 1,000 cases.

Two shots of the MMR vaccine provide nearly 100 per cent protection from getting measles for life.

A child gets a needle while holding a bumblebee toy and sitting with an adult.
The measles-containing vaccine is normally administered at age one and again between the ages of four and six. This child in Vancouver is receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

“It’s always concerning to hear that some children may not be up to date because it means that they’re not adequately protected against disease that we have vaccines to protect them for,” said Marie-Claude Turcotte, manager of immunization at OPH.

Public health officials previously warned the drop in vaccine coverage heightens the risk of a measles outbreak in the city because measles is so contagious.

Efforts to catch up

Data for last year shows the volume of orders for all routine vaccines is still 10 per cent behind where it was before 2020, said Turcotte, though the number is better than 2020 and 2021.

According to OPH, the five-in-one vaccine (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and haemophilus influenzae type b), usually given at a baby’s six month appointment, saw little to no changes in volumes ordered during the pandemic.

Ottawa also suspended its participation in the province’s school-age vaccine tracking program for two school years, 2020-2021 and 2021-2022.

The Panorama program prompts parents to notify OPH what vaccines their child has received as required by Ontario law. Late in 2022, the public health agency resumed the program and sent notices to more than 12,000 students who were born in 2005 and 2015.

“That’s a reminder to parents to go and get the child vaccinated,” she said.

Even ‘small’ drop makes difference: researcher

When it comes to measles and whooping cough, every new child vaccinated makes a difference, said Dr. Kumanan Wilson. He’s a professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa and the chief science officer at CANImmunize.

“These are some of our most infectious viruses so we need to have high vaccine coverage,” he said. “Even a small drop in coverage for measles can result in outbreaks.”

A doctor in scrubs talks into a microphone at a rally.
Dr. Kumanan Wilson, a physician at The Ottawa Hospital and CEO of immunization tracking software company CANImmunize, said a new online system will be available to parents in Ottawa and some surrounding health units that will allow them to book routine vaccines for their children. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Wilson said CANImmunize, which runs a free app that allows parents to track their children’s vaccinations, reported a drop in new registrations during the pandemic.

“We’re still lagging somewhat,” he said earlier this week.

While Ottawa sees one to two per cent of children go without vaccines due to conscientious or religious objections, Wilson believes confusion is a large driver behind the vaccine lag.

“We like to talk a lot about vaccine hesitancy and the anti-vaccine movement but really, logistics is often at the root of a lot of these problems,” he said.

The company is currently working with CHEO to design software that will allow parents in Ottawa and four neighbouring counties to book vaccine appointments for their children online and for health units to track vaccinations if parents give consent.

It is expected to be available to parents in May, the company said. Wilson said he hopes new tools will help streamline and improve the booking process, increasing vaccine coverage.

OPH has also expanded routine vaccinations available at its family and community vaccination clinics and wellness hubs. Parents who do not have a family doctor, or another health-care provider, can book a vaccine appointment through its website at one of the clinics.


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'Worrisome' deadly fungus spreading through US at alarming rate – Sky News



A drug-resistant and potentially deadly fungus is spreading rapidly through US health facilities, according to a government study.

Researchers from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the fungus, a type of yeast called Candida auris or C. auris, can cause severe illness in people with weakened immune systems.

The number of people diagnosed, as well as the number who were found through screening to be carrying C. auris, has been rising at an alarming rate since the fungus was first reported in the US in 2016.

A strain of Candida auris cultured in a petri dish at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2019

The fungus was identified in 2009 in Asia, but scientists have said C. auris first appeared around the world about a decade earlier.

Dr Meghan Lyman, chief medical officer of the CDC’s mycotic diseases branch, said the increases, “especially in the most recent years, are really concerning to us”.

“We’ve seen increases not just in areas of ongoing transmission, but also in new areas,” she said.

Dr Lyman also said she was concerned about the increasing number of fungus samples resistant to the common treatments for it.

More on United States

Dr Waleed Javaid, an epidemiologist and director of infection prevention and control at Mount Sinai Downtown in New York, said the fungus was “worrisome”.

“But we don’t want people who watched ‘The Last Of Us’ to think we’re all going to die,” Dr Javaid said.

“This is an infection that occurs in extremely ill individuals who are usually sick with a lot of other issues.”

Read more:
Is The Last Of Us’ real ‘zombie’ fungus an actual threat?

The fungus, which can be found on the skin and throughout the body, is not a threat to healthy people.

But about one-third of people who become sick with C. auris die.

The fungus has been detected in more than half of all US states. The number of infections in the US increased by 95% between 2020 and 2021.

Read more:
Species of fungus discovered in Scotland
Fungal infections ‘increased significantly’ during COVID pandemic

The new research comes as Mississippi is facing a growing outbreak of the fungus.

Since November, 12 people in the state have been infected with four “potentially associated deaths”, according to the state’s health department.

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More dead birds found in Caledon could be linked to bird flu



Possible cases of bird flu have been found in Caledon as potential outbreaks of the virus are popping up in Brampton and across southern Ontario.

The City of Brampton issued a warning about two possible avian flu incidents on Friday after dead birds were found in the area of Professor’s Lake and Duncan Foster Valley South.​

Now the Town of Caledon says a number of dead birds have also been found in a pond near Coleraine Dr. and Harvest Moon Dr. and that the deaths may be related to bird flu.

The Town has closed a trail in the area out of precaution and says testing is being conducted by the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative to determine the birds’ cause of death.


Peel Public Health says that while avian influenza is a threat to birds, the risk to humans is very low.

“Most cases of human avian flu have been traced to handling infected poultry or their droppings,” said Dr. Nicholas Brandon, acting Medical Officer of Health for PPH. “Residents are asked to follow the recommended guidance to limit the spread of avian flu and protect the health and safety of residents and pets.”

Peel Public Health is recommending residents and pet owners are asked to take the following precautions:

  • Keep animals away from any waterfowl or fecal matter
  • Do not feed or otherwise interact with the waterfowl
  • Keep cats indoors
  • Keep dogs on a leash (as required under the municipal by-law)
  • Do not feed pets (e.g., dogs or cats) any raw meat from game birds or poultry
  • Pet birds, if not normally kept indoors, should be restricted to the indoors
  • Bird feeders should be removed or washed with soap and water frequently to reduce the chance of bacterial or viral contamination

The cause of the birds’ death in all three of the cases in Peel has not been confirmed but Brampton Animal Services is actively monitoring the areas.

If the birds test negative for Avian Influenza a full necropsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death, the City of Brampton said on Friday.

Last week the Toronto Zoo shut down some of its bird enclosures after an avian flu case was detected at a southern Ontario poultry farm.

A highly pathogenic type of H5N1 avian flu has been tearing through Canadian flocks since early 2022, killing millions of birds and infecting a record number of avian species.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency detected a case at a commercial poultry operation southeast of Hamilton on Tuesday, the second reported Ontario site in a week after a lull in detected cases going back to the end of December.

With files from The Canadian Press


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Developing postoperative delirium associated with a faster rate of cognitive decline, says study



Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

Research published today (March 20) in the JAMA Internal Medicine finds that developing postoperative delirium is associated with a 40% faster rate of cognitive decline over those who do not develop delirium.

“Delirium is associated with faster cognitive decline,” said Zachary J. Kunicki, Ph.D., MS, MPH Assistant Professor located at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, the first author. “Whether causes this faster rate of decline, or is simply a marker of those who are at risk of experiencing faster rates of decline, is still to be determined.”

“This study has the longest follow-up period of any study examining persons with delirium following ,” said Sharon K. Inouye, MD, MPH Director, Aging Brain Center, Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research, the senior author and principal investigator on the work. “While future studies are needed, this study raises the possibility that delirium may predispose to permanent cognitive decline and potentially dementia. This highlights the importance of delirium prevention to preserve brain health in who undergo surgery,” she said.

Delirium is the most common post-operative complication in older adults and is associated with poor outcomes, including long-term cognitive decline and incident dementia.


Richard N. Jones, ScD, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University is co-senior author of the article, “Six-year cognitive trajectory in older adults following and delirium.”

“The SAGES cohort has followed 560 older adults (age 70 and older), measuring their cognition every six months for 36 months, then annually afterwards for up to six years. Using a detailed cognitive testing battery, comprised of 11 different tests, we found that cognitive changes after surgery are complex and that delirium influences every timepoint. The average cognitive changes seen after surgery include an abrupt drop at one month after surgery, an increase at two months after surgery, a stable period from 6–30 months after surgery, and then steady decline from 3–6 years after surgery.

“Delirium is associated with a sharper drop at one month, greater recovery at two months, and faster decline in all time periods from six months to six years, respectively. The results suggest that either delirium itself may contribute to cognitive decline after surgery, or that delirium may serve to identify those at risk for future more rapid cognitive decline. Future research will be needed to examine whether either or both of these hypotheses best explain the relationship between delirium and ,” say the authors.

More information:
Six-Year Cognitive Trajectory in Older Adults Following Major Surgery and Delirium, JAMA Internal Medicine (2023). DOI: 10.1001/jamainternalmed.2023.0144

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Hebrew SeniorLife Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research

Developing postoperative delirium associated with a faster rate of cognitive decline, says study (2023, March 20)
retrieved 20 March 2023

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