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N.B. changes definitions of COVID deaths and hospitalizations, launches Respiratory Watch

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New Brunswick has revamped the way it reports on COVID-19 again, including the launch of a new Respiratory Watch report that combines updates on both COVID-19 and influenza, and new definitions of COVID deaths and hospitalizations.

“With the arrival of the new respiratory illness season, it makes sense to monitor both of these diseases together so that New Brunswickers can be informed of the impacts these diseases are having on the health of the population,” Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said in a statement.

The respiratory report, which is located on the province’s COVID-19 site, also includes only seasonal vaccination data and has a section dedicated to nursing home outbreaks.

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The new format reflects similar reporting approaches in other provinces, including British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan, Russell said.

A COVID death is now defined as “a confirmed case who was admitted to hospital and whose death occurred during their stay.”

“A death due to COVID-19 or influenza does not mean that it was necessarily the primary or contributing factor to the cause of death,” Health Department spokesperson Sean Hatchard said in an emailed statement. “Therefore, only deaths that occur in hospital will be reported.”

A close up of a person's arm, in a yellow sleeve with a blue latex glove, touching the chest of someone lying on a hospital bed.
Only COVID-19 deaths that occur in hospital will be reported now, the province announced Tuesday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Since March 2022, Public Health has been reporting COVID deaths as those where the virus was either the primary cause of death or a directly contributing factor.

Previously, the province used the national surveillance case definition for a deceased COVID-19 case: a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case whose death resulted from a clinically compatible illness, unless a clear alternative cause of death is identified, such as trauma, poisoning, or drug overdose.

Deaths that occur outside hospital are subject to a reporting lag that can last months, said Hatchard, while in-hospital deaths are “a more timely indicator for disease severity.”

The pandemic death toll of 935 has also been dropped and replaced with a respiratory season total of zero.

Back to counting hospitalized ‘for’ and ‘with’ COVID

COVID hospitalizations, meanwhile, now include patients who have been hospitalized both for and with COVID-19, rather than only those who have been hospitalized because of complications from the disease.

“The department recognizes that both types of patients have an impact on the system,” said Hatchard.

Since April 2022, the province has been counting only people who were hospitalized because of the virus. People who were initially admitted to hospital for another reason and later tested positive for COVID were no longer included.

No deaths, 44 COVID hospitalizations, cases up

According to the new report, no COVID deaths occurred between Aug. 27 and Sept. 2.

That’s down from seven COVID deaths in the previous COVIDWatch report, which covered July 23 to Aug. 26.

While COVIDWatch provided only three age categories for deaths, with the youngest being under 50, Respiratory Watch includes five age categories — under four, five to 19, 20 to 44, 45 to 64, and 65 and older.

Forty-four people were hospitalized for or with COVID-19 during the latest reporting week, including one person who required intensive care, up from the 24 admitted to hospital because of the virus in the previous report.

One person was aged 20 to 44, three were 45 to 64 and the other 40 were 65 or older, including the one in ICU.

250% jump in hospitalizations at Horizon

Horizon Health Network, meanwhile, has seen a 250 per cent jump in the number of people it has hospitalized for or with COVID-19 in the past two weeks, its updated COVID-19 dashboard shows.

It has 42 active COVID-19 hospitalizations, as of Sept. 9, up from 12 on Aug. 26. Two people are in intensive care, up from one.

Vitalité has not updated its COVID website. Although the province and Horizon have both switched to bimonthly reports, as of Tuesday, it plans to continue with monthly updates “for the time being,” an unidentified spokesperson told CBC.

Horizon also reported COVID outbreaks on six hospital units, up from none, and 21 health-care workers off the job because they tested positive for the virus, up from 11.

A total of 95 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID have been reported across New Brunswick, an increase from the previous report week.

The positivity rate also increased, to 14 per cent, and eight lab-confirmed outbreaks were declared.

COVID activity is described as “moderate.”

No influenza activity has been recorded yet this respiratory season, which began Aug. 27.

Vaccination rate changes

As for vaccination data, the department will focus on how many people have received a vaccine for COVID-19 or influenza within the current respiratory illness season.

This is “in order to portray the level of protection in the community,” Hatchard said.

The statistics aren’t available on the Respiratory Watch page yet, but 31,113 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered between March 12 and Sept. 11, according to Hatchard. He did not provide the total eligible population.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of Pfizer's bivalent COVID-19 vaccine.
Health Canada has approved Moderna’s updated COVID-19 vaccine for all Canadians who are six months of age or older, but no information about when the shots will be available in New Brunswick has been released. (Kristopher Radder/The Associated Press)

On Tuesday, Health Canada approved Moderna’s updated COVID-19 vaccine, which targets the Omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant, for all Canadians six months or older.

Health Canada said Canadians age five and up should receive one dose. Children from six months to four years old should receive two doses if they have never had a COVID vaccine, or one dose if they’ve had at least one dose.

Public Health will be offering eligible New Brunswickers vaccines for COVID-19 and influenza this fall, said Russell. She could not provide details.

“In the meantime, Public Health recommends that patients speak with their health-care provider to determine the level of risk they may face if they choose to wait for the new vaccination formulation to arrive,” Russell said.

As it stands, the only New Brunswickers eligible since July 1 have been those aged 65 and older or those 18 and older who are moderately to severely immunocompromised, who did not receive a spring booster and whose last shot or infection was at least five months ago, and new residents of long-term care facilities aged 18 and older who did not receive a spring booster and whose last shot and/or infection was at least five months ago.

Health Canada is still reviewing updated vaccines from other companies, including Pfizer-BioNTech’s Omicron XBB.1.5 vaccine for Canadians aged six months and older and Novavax’s shot for people aged 12 and older.

Nursing home outbreaks

Lab-confirmed COVID outbreaks were reported at two unidentified nursing homes in the province Aug. 27 to Sept. 2, while six outbreaks were reported in “other” vulnerable settings, the report shows. No other details are provided.

An outbreak is defined as two or more positive cases among residents or staff with an epidemiological link within 10 days.

Info on positive rapid tests and sequencing dropped

Submitted positive rapid test results will not be posted on the Respiratory Watch page.

“Now that the COVID-19 state of emergency has ended the department feels regular reporting of this information is no longer required,” said Hatchard.

In addition, the province is no longer including sequencing breakdowns for COVID-19.

Public Health will only confirm the presence or non-presence of a subvariant upon request, said Hatchard.

“It should be noted, however, that if the situation was to change, and a new subvariant was to emerge and pose more severe health risks to New Brunswickers, Public Health would inform the population as needed,” he said.

On Monday, Hatchard confirmed the highly mutated new Omicron variant BA.2.86 has not been detected in the province. “Nearly all circulating strains are of the XBB family,” he said.

The first Canadian case of BA.2.86, which has health experts watching closely� because of its high number of mutations, was recently confirmed in British Columbia. So far, it does not appear to be more severe.

 

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Canada expands HPAI surveillance in dairy cattle

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The Government of Canada and stakeholders are taking new precautions to help prevent the emergence of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in Canadian dairy cattle.

 

Dairy producers watch for signs of HPAI in cows

Dairy farmers in Canada remain on guard for signs the virus may have turned up in their herds as mandatory…

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Late last week, the feds announced intentions to expand its avian flu surveillance by:

-Requiring negative HPAI test results for lactating dairy cattle being imported from the United States to Canada
-Conducting enhanced testing of milk at the retail level to look for viral fragments of HPAI
-Facilitating the voluntary testing of cows that are not presenting clinical signs of HPAI to facilitate enhanced industry biosecurity efforts.

The announcement comes on the heels of HPAI fragments being found in U.S. milk April 23. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (USDA), a new study revealed that the pasteurization of dairy products inactivates the virus that causes HPAI even when fragments of the virus remain.

“The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Health Canada are monitoring the situation closely and would like to reassure Canadians that commercially sold milk and milk products remain safe to consume,” read the May 3 news release.

“If the CFIA becomes aware of any potential food safety or animal health risks, immediate actions will be taken to help protect Canada’s food supply and livestock.

“These measures complement the existing comprehensive and integrated approach to human surveillance of influenza in Canada and will inform and support the range of ongoing preparation actions undertaken by PHAC with its partners to protect human health.”

The virus strain titled H5N1, Eurasian lineage goose/Guangdong clade 2.3.4.4b has been found in dairy herds in nine U.S. states since March. The last discovery to date occurred in Colorado on April 26.

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Here are the ultraprocessed foods you most need to avoid, according to a 30-year study – CP24

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Madeline Holcombe, CNN


Published Wednesday, May 8, 2024 9:31PM EDT


Last Updated Wednesday, May 8, 2024 9:31PM EDT

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(CNN) — Eating ultraprocessed foods is associated with an early risk of death, according to a 30-year study — but different foods have different impacts.

Processed meats and sugary foods and drinks aren’t correlated with the same risks as ultraprocessed whole grains, for example, said lead study author Dr. Mingyang Song, associate professor of clinical epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health.

The study analyzed data from more than 100,000 health professionals in the United States with no history of cancer, cardiovascular disease or diabetes. From 1986 to 2018, the participants provided information on their health and lifestyle habits every two years.

Every four years, they completed a detailed food questionnaire.

The group eating the least ultraprocessed food ate about three servings a day on average, while the highest averaged seven servings a day, according to the study published Wednesday in The BMJ journal.

Those who ate the most had a 4% higher risk of deaths by any cause, including a 9% increased risk of neurodegenerative deaths, the data showed.

Song described the correlation as “moderate,” noting that the connection was not equally strong among all kinds of ultraprocessed foods.

“The positive association is mainly driven by a few subgroups including processed meat and sugar sweetened or artificially sweetened beverages,” he said.

Findings in this study were consistent with hundreds of others in the field, but what makes this one unique is its parsing out of different subgroups within the ultraprocessed food category, said Dr. Marion Nestle, the Paulette Goddard professor emerita of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University.

Do we need to get rid of all ultraprocessed foods?

Song wouldn’t necessarily advise a complete rejection of all ultraprocessed foods because it is a diverse category, he said.

“Cereals, whole grain breads, for example, they are also considered ultraprocessed food, but they contain various beneficial nutrients like fiber, vitamins and minerals,” he said. “On the other hand, I do think people should try to avoid or limit the consumption of certain ultraprocessed foods, such as processed meat, sugar-sweetened beverages and also potentially artificially sweetened beverages.”

There are also more questions that need to be answered when it comes to ultraprocessed foods.

First, the recent study is strong because of the length of time covered, but it is an observational study. That means that while researchers can observe a correlation, they can’t say that the foods were the cause of the deaths, said Dr. Peter Wilde, emeritus fellow at Quadram Institute Bioscience in the United Kingdom.

Researchers also need to look more at the components of ultraprocessed foods that might be affecting health — whether they be food additives, emulsifiers or flavors — to advise governments and institutions on how to regulate foods, Song said.

Overall diet matters most

Researchers also found that the most important factor to reducing risk of death is the quality of a person’s overall diet, Song said.

“If people maintain a generally healthy diet, I don’t think they need to be like scared or be freaked out,” he said. “The overall dietary pattern is still the predominant factor determining the health outcomes.”

A healthy diet is varied, with as many colorful fruits and vegetables and whole grains as possible, Wilde said.

“If you are worried about food additives, then choose foods that have low levels of additives,” he said in an email. “Just be mindful of the nutritional content of (the ultraprocessed foods) that you do choose to consume.”

It is also important to recognize that foods need to be eaten in balance. Fruit juice contains beneficial vitamins, minerals and antioxidants when consumed in moderation, but too much will have high levels of sugar that may override their benefits, Wilde said.

“This is not black and white,” he said. “A particular food is not either good or bad, it will contain elements of both, and the balance between the two may depend on how much you eat.”

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7 eating, drinking habits that increase your cancer risk – Yahoo Canada Shine On

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This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.

Eating ultraprocessed foods is associated with an early risk of death, according to a new study. (Getty)Eating ultraprocessed foods is associated with an early risk of death, according to a new study. (Getty)

Eating ultraprocessed foods is associated with an early risk of death, according to a new study. (Getty)

While you can enjoy most foods in moderation, consuming certain ones can increase your risk of developing cancer. A new 2024 study published in The BMJ shed light on how ultra-processed foods (UPFs) can significantly impact your health.

Researchers from Harvard University conducted a 30-year analysis of more than 110,000 health professionals in the United States and discovered a strong correlation between UPF consumption and increased mortality rates.

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Those who consumed the most UPFs (averaging seven servings daily) had a four per cent higher risk of death from any cause compared to those who consumed the least (three servings daily). High UPF consumption was also linked to a nine per cent higher risk of neurodegenerative deaths.

Foods that are most strongly associated with higher mortality include processed meat and poultry, like bacon, ham, hot dogs — which have been classified as carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. They contain nitrates and other preservatives that can increase the risk of colorectal, stomach and bowel cancers.

Consuming even 100 per cent fruit juice has been linked to increased risk of health problems.  Mockup and .illustration is suitable for presenting new juice packaging or label designs among many othersConsuming even 100 per cent fruit juice has been linked to increased risk of health problems.  Mockup and .illustration is suitable for presenting new juice packaging or label designs among many others

Consuming even 100 per cent fruit juice has been linked to increased risk of health problems.

High-risk UPFs also include sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened drinks, including sodas and even 100 per cent fruit juice. These are linked to obesity, a known risk factor for 13 types of cancer.

It’s been known following a healthy lifestyle, including eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods, can help decrease your cancer risk. That could also mean avoiding or reducing eating some less-nutritious foods.

Here are some of the top offenders you can avoid.


Cooked Bacon Slices on White Background Back Lit Pattern Full Frame Studio Shot.Cooked Bacon Slices on White Background Back Lit Pattern Full Frame Studio Shot.

Cooked Bacon Slices on White Background Back Lit Pattern Full Frame Studio Shot.

Processed meats were classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, as a class 1 carcinogen in 2015, which means they’re known to cause cancer. Processed meats are preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives. Examples of processed meat include bacon, ham, hot dogs, salami and sausages.

The methods of preserving these meats include nitrates, chemicals that are known to cause bowel and stomach cancer. To reduce your cancer risk, it’s best to avoid processed meats as much as possible or eliminate them entirely.

Red meat is also associated with an increased risk of developing cancer. Although red meat can be a good source of iron, protein and other micronutrients, most people in the Western world eat far too much red meat, with Canada having one of the highest per capita consumption rates in the world. Consuming red and processed meat has been linked to 15 different types of cancer, including:

  • Colorectal

  • Esophagus

  • Kidney

  • Liver

  • Stomach

To decrease your risk, you shouldn’t eat more than one serving of red meat per week. If you do eat red meat, you may be able to mitigate your risk of developing cancer by eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. A study of more than 50,000 people in Alberta found that those who consumed red meat along with a high intake of fruits and vegetables had less risk of developing several cancers.

Processed meats like hot dogs and sausages are preserved using nitrates, which are known to cause bowel and stomach cancer. (Photo via Getty Images)Processed meats like hot dogs and sausages are preserved using nitrates, which are known to cause bowel and stomach cancer. (Photo via Getty Images)

Processed meats like hot dogs and sausages are preserved using nitrates, which are known to cause bowel and stomach cancer. (Photo via Getty Images)

Although sugar itself doesn’t cause cancer, drinking sugary drinks — including pop and 100 per cent fruit juice — has been associated with an increased risk of developing cancer. Sugar consumption is linked to obesity, which is a risk factor in 13 types of cancer. Sugary drinks are sweetened with sugar, corn syrup or other sweeteners that have calories. Some examples include:

  • Pop

  • Energy drinks

  • Sports drinks

  • Fruit drinks

These beverages don’t have any nutritional value and don’t fill you up. Most people don’t consume fewer calories in the rest of their diet when they drink sugary drinks, leading to weight gain.

Eating highly processed foods has been associated with an increased risk of overall cancer and breast cancer. Highly processed foods contain added salt, sugar and saturated fat, and include examples such as:

  • Chips and pretzels

  • Sugary drinks

  • Sauces, including dressings and gravies

  • Ice cream

  • Muffins, cakes and cookies

  • French fries, burgers and other fast food

  • Frozen pizza and pasta

Foods that are preserved by drying, canning or freezing can be part of a healthy diet. If you eat highly processed foods, check the ingredients to find those that have little or no added sodium, sugar or saturated fat.

Carbohydrates can be an important part of a healthy diet. However, refined carbohydrates have been stripped of their fibre and nutritional content, and can be easily digested, causing your blood sugar to spike. Fibre plays an important role in preventing some types of cancer. Eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates is associated with a significantly increased risk of developing prostate and breast cancer. Refined carbohydrates include foods such as:

  • Tortillas

  • White bread

  • Bagels

  • Waffles and pancakes

  • Pastries

  • White rice

You can cut down on your consumption of refined carbs by substituting complex carbs instead. Choose brown rice instead of white rice, baked goods made with whole grains and eat oatmeal instead of refined breakfast cereals.

You may have heard that alcohol, particularly red wine, is good for your health. While it’s true that consuming red wine in moderation is associated with fewer heart attacks, all types of alcohol are associated with an increased risk of developing cancer. The more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk is of developing cancer. Drinking alcohol is positively associated with developing six types of cancer, including:

  • Mouth and throat cancer

  • Esophagus cancer

  • Colon and rectal cancer

  • Liver cancer

  • Breast cancer

  • Voice box cancer

Three-quarters of Canadians report drinking alcohol in the past year, making it the most commonly used substance in Canada. The Canadian Cancer Society funded a study that found that limiting alcohol intake could prevent 44,300 cases of cancer by 2042.

While drinking red wine in moderation is associated with having fewer heart attacks, all types of alcohol are related to an increased risk of cancer. (Photo via Getty Images)While drinking red wine in moderation is associated with having fewer heart attacks, all types of alcohol are related to an increased risk of cancer. (Photo via Getty Images)

While drinking red wine in moderation is associated with having fewer heart attacks, all types of alcohol are related to an increased risk of cancer. (Photo via Getty Images)

Everyone loves a barbecue, but grilling your meat may increase your cancer risk, since charring your food carbonizes the proteins and sugars in it. Charring meat, fish and poultry causes heterocyclic amines (HCAs) to form, which are substances that may cause cancer. Here are some ways you can enjoy grilled food and lower your risk of cancer:

  • Marinate meat for 30 minutes before cooking

  • Precook your meat away from the grill to reduce exposure time

  • Cook at lower temperatures using indirect heat

  • Cut off charred areas before you eat

  • Consider grilling fruits and vegetables, which don’t form HCAs even when they’re charred

Let us know what you think by commenting below and tweeting @YahooStyleCA! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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