New West study aims for earlier diagnoses of painful period condition - The Record (New Westminster) - Canada News Media
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New West study aims for earlier diagnoses of painful period condition – The Record (New Westminster)



The New Westminster school district is yet again leading the way to destigmatize menstruation.

Starting in January, 100 New Westminster Secondary School students will learn, as part of a study, about a medical condition that causes painful periods.

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Researchers hope the pilot program will improve students’ knowledge and increase early diagnoses of the condition.

Endometriosis causes tissue normally found inside the uterus to grow outside the uterus, such as on the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining the pelvis. This can cause little to no symptoms, or it can cause debilitating pain in the pelvic area during menstruation.

But Catherine Allaire, medical director of the Centre for Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis at B.C. Women’s Hospital, said there’s a serious gap in diagnoses of endometriosis. Allaire said it’s estimated to take eight years from the start of symptoms to reach a diagnosis.

Part of the issue is that the typical diagnosis requires a laparoscopy, a surgical procedure – though Allaire said there’s a movement in Canada and elsewhere toward treating the symptoms without necessarily requiring the procedure.

But another part of the issue, Allaire said, is the lack of popular knowledge about the issue and the general discomfort of Canadians in discussing menstruation – despite the fact that it affects roughly 10% of women and girls of reproductive age.

“If you never talk about something, you don’t know what’s abnormal,” Allaire said. “It’s 50% of the world that menstruates, so I’m not sure why it’s still such a difficult thing to discuss or talk about as if it’s some kind of dirty, hidden thing.”

But if endometriosis affects so many people, why the lack of public knowledge and discussion? In large part, it’s a mix of historical downplaying of women’s pain and inadequate research on and funding for women’s sexual health, Allaire said.

“It’s just a systemic issue,” she said. “There’s a huge gender bias in terms of where research money is going. It’s taken a long time to get to this, but it’s finally happening.”

Allaire’s pilot program is building on a 2017 study in New Zealand that showed a similar program led to more women and girls seeking medical help for the condition at a younger age.

“We thought this would be something worthwhile to introduce into high schools in British Columbia,” Allaire said.

“At the time we were looking for a partner, [the New West school district] announced that they would be offering free menstrual products in the high school. … We thought, ‘Wow, there’s a school board that’s open-minded and willing to discuss menstruation.”

The New West school district was the first in B.C. to approve paying for free menstrual product dispensers in their schools.

In the pilot, half of the 100 boys and girls will take a one-hour course on endometriosis. They will take questionnaires, including a six-week follow-up, to determine retention of the knowledge. After that, the other half will take the questionnaire before taking the course to compare results.

Allaire said the program is expected to bring results by April, and potentially be published by the summer, depending on how the publication process goes.

“The goal is to basically arm patients and advocates and school educators and stuff with data that supports such an educational intervention and then advocate for other school boards and even ministries of education … about putting this as a standard in the curriculum,” Allaire said.

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B.C. prepares for new coronavirus with diagnostic test as over 400 cases reported in China –



After the first North American case of the new coronavirus was confirmed in Seattle, Washington, today (January 21), B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued a joint statement as annual mass migrations begin for the Lunar New Year (January 25).

Echoing Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam’s statement on January 20 about the risk level for Canadians, the B.C. government is assessing the risk to citizens in this province as low.

Dix and Henry stated that quarantine officers are at Vancouver International Airport to coordinate any necessary response and Richmond Hospital infection control practitioners are available if further investigation of a patient is required.

In addition, the statement explained that screening for early detection of infections for traveler arriving at airports has been implemented.

Thus far, the only reported measures at Vancouver International Airport have been the implementation of messages on arrival signage, an additional health screening question on electronic kiosks, and reminders for travellers to report any illnesses to border service officers.

However in comparison, three U.S. airports (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City) are screening arriving travellers from Wuhan, China, in a separate area, giving them a questionnaire, and using thermal scanners to detect illness.

According to the B.C. health ministry statement, B.C. healthcare workers have been instructed to record the travel history of anyone who has respiratory symptoms and to report any suspected cases to medical health officer.

The news release also stated that the B.C. Centre for Disease Control has developed a diagnostic test for the coronavirus, which marks a difference from the SARS outbreak (which didn’t have an equivalent test).

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control and provincial and federal authorities are monitoring the outbreak.

“Canada’s Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health is meeting regularly with the Public Health Agency of Canada, which is co-ordinating with the World Health Organization,” the statement reads. “Future actions to prevent the spread of this coronavirus will continue to be co-ordinated with these organizations.”

Anyone who may have been exposed to, or are experiencing coronavirus symptoms should contact their primary care provider, local public health office, or call 811.

For more information on the coronavirus, visit the federal webpage for the Canadian travel advisory for Wuhan, China.

Thus far, cases outside of China include three in Thailand, one in Japan, one in South Korea, one in Taiwan, and one in the U.S.

The Philippines is monitoring a potential case in Cebu City.

The number of new virus cases has risen to 440 in China, with nine deaths, as of midnight on January 21 (Beijing time).

Meanwhile, University of Saskatchewan researchers are working towards creating a vaccine for the new coronavirus.


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Coronavirus reaches the US: Everything we know about the deadly virus – CNET



A man in Wuhan, China wears a face mask.

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A never-before-seen virus, detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has claimed nine lives and infected hundreds of Chinese citizens with a pneumonia-like illness, according to China’s National Health Commission. It was first reported to the World Health Organization on Dec. 31, 2019 and has been under investigation since. WHO indicates there are still many unknowns, but Chinese scientists have linked the disease to a family of viruses known as “coronaviruses,” the same family as the deadly SARS and MERS viruses.

Scientists are yet to fully understand how destructive the new virus, dubbed 2019-nCoV, might be. Researchers and investigators are just beginning to understand where it originated, how it is transmitted, how far it has spread and what symptoms patients present with.

As of Jan. 21, case numbers have skyrocketed to over 440 in China and abroad. Chinese authorities also confirmed health workers have been infected with virus, suggesting it has achieved human-to-human transmission. As a result, authorities are taking steps to guard against its spread and the WHO will convene an Emergency Committee to explore whether the virus constitutes a public health emergency on Wednesday, Jan. 22. Researchers believe the number of cases may be higher than current reports suggest, and three US airports have begun to screen incoming passengers for signs of illness, as have busy airports in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia.

Here’s everything we know about the mystery virus and steps you can take to reduce your risk of coronavirus 

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses belong to a family of viruses known as Coronaviridae and look like spiked rings under an electron microscope. They are so named because of these spikes, which form a halo around their viral envelope.

Coronaviruses contain a strand of RNA within their envelope and cannot reproduce without getting inside living cells and hijacking the machinery found within. The spikes on their viral envelope help them bind to cells, which gives them a way in. It’s like blasting the door open with C4. Once inside they turn the cell into a virus factory, using its molecular conveyor belt to produce more viruses which are then shipped out. The virus progeny infect another cell and the cycle starts anew.

Typically, these types of viruses are found in animals ranging from livestock to household pets and wildlife such as bats. When they make the jump to humans they can cause fever, respiratory illness and inflammation in the lungs. In immunocompromised individuals, such as the elderly or those with HIV-AIDS, they can cause severe respiratory illness.

The causative agent of severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome were extremely pathogenic coronaviruses, and were found to be easily transmitted from human to human. SARS infected more than 8,000 people and resulted in nearly 800 deaths, MERS almost 2,500 with over 850 deaths.

Where did the virus come from?

The virus appears to have originated in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, a Chinese city of over 11 million people approximately 650 miles south of Beijing. The market sells fish, as well as a panoply of other animal meats. However, it’s still unknown whether it emerged from an animal species like previous coronaviruses, SARS and MERS.

Markets have been implicated in the origin and spread of viral diseases in past epidemics and a large majority of the confirmed cases seen so far had been to the Huanan Seafood marketplace in recent weeks. The market seems like an integral piece of the puzzle, but researchers will need to undertake a range of experiments and testing to confirm the virus’ origin.

“Testing of animals in the Wuhan area, including sampling from the markets, will provide more information,” said Raina MacIntyre, a head of the biosecurity research program at the University of New South Wales’ Kirby Institute.

How many confirmed cases have been reported?

Four hundred forty cases have been confirmed as of Jan. 22. The bulk are in China, but cases have been confirmed in Thailand, Japan, South Korea and now the US, where a man in his 30s in Washington state presented with the disease at a local hospital.

A list of confirmed cases and their locations are below:

  • China: 440 confirmed cases
  • Thailand: 2 confirmed cases
  • Japan: 1 confirmed cases
  • South Korea: 1 confirmed case
  • US: 1 confirmed case
  • Australia: 1 suspected case

National authorities in China continue to monitor over 1,300 residents who attended the Wuhan market or have had prolonged contact with those presenting symptoms of the novel disease.

China’s National Health Commission said the virus is responsible for nine deaths as of Jan. 22. The first death was a 61-year-old man who had frequented the Wuhan market and had chronic liver disease and abdominal tumors. The second was a 69-year-old man who went to a hospital with severe damage to multiple organs. 

A study, published by the Imperial College London on Jan. 17, estimates the total number of 2019-nCoV cases could be much higher than reported, with over 1,700 cases. The work, led by Neil Ferguson, calculated how far the virus is likely to spread based on its incubation period and the amount of travel in and out of Wuhan since it was first detected.

WHO’s full situation report was last updated on Jan. 21 but only includes data up to Jan. 20.

How do we know it’s a new coronavirus?

In short, genes. 

Chinese scientists were able to isolate and unravel the genetic code of the virus from patients, ruling out other potential causes such as influenza, and confirm it is completely new. However the genetic code shows this virus has around 70% similarity to the SARS coronavirus.

Understanding the genetic code also helps researchers in two ways: It allows them to create tests that can identify the virus from patient samples and gives them potential insight into creating treatments or vaccines.

How does the coronavirus spread?

This is one of the major questions researchers are working feverishly to answer. It’s unclear what animals may act as a reservoir for the virus and how much of a role the live animal markets play in its spread. There haven’t been reports of health officials and attendants contracting the disease, which seems to suggest human-to-human transmission is limited — but this is still being investigated.

“It does not appear to be highly contagious between humans at this stage, based on about 60 known symptomatic cases to date,” Macintyre said in a statement on Jan. 17.

The market, believed to be the epicenter of the spread, was shut down on Jan. 1. The World Health Organization has suggested that human-to-human transmission can’t be excluded at this stage, which could cause some concern for authorities looking to slow the disease.

On Jan. 20, the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy reported health workers in China had been infected with the virus. This was a notable turning point in the previous SARS epidemic, as health workers moving between countries were able to aid the spread of the disease. It also confirms human-to-human transmission is likely, which could hamper efforts to contain the virus in the coming weeks.

“The major concern is hospital outbreaks, which were seen with SARS and MERS coronaviruses,” MacIntyre said. “Meticulous triage and infection control is needed to prevent these outbreaks and protect health workers.”


An electron microscopy image of the coronavirus which causes SARS. 


What’s next?

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO, will convene an emergency committee on Wednesday, Jan. 22 to ascertain whether this new virus constitutes a public health emergency.

“If WHO declares a public health emergency of international concern, it enables WHO greater powers for disease control using the International Health Regulations,” MacIntyre said.

Most recently, the emergency committee was convened for the Ebola virus epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The meeting outlined a number of key strategies and commitments to strengthen and protect against the spread of the disease.

What are the symptoms?

The novel coronavirus causes similar symptoms to previously identified disease-causing coronaviruses. In currently identified patients, there seems to be a spectrum of illness: A large number experience mild pneumonia-like symptoms, while others have a much more severe response.

Patients present with:

  • Elevated body temperature 
  • A dry cough
  • Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties. 

As the disease progresses patients may also present with pneumonia, which inflames the lungs and causes them to fill with fluid which can be detected via X-ray, according to the WHO.

Is there a treatment for coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are notoriously hardy organisms. They’re effective at hiding from the human immune syste, and we haven’t developed any reliable treatments of vaccines that can eradicate them. In most cases, health officials attempt to deal with the symptoms.

That doesn’t mean vaccines are an impossibility, however. Chinese scientists were able to sequence the virus’ genetic code incredibly quickly, giving scientists a chance to study it and look for ways to combat the novel disease. According to CNN, researchers at the National Institute of Health are already working on a vaccine — though note it could be a year or more away from release.

Notably, SARS, which infected around 8,000 people and killed around 800 seemed to run its course and then mostly disappear. It wasn’t the vaccine that turned the tide on the disease but rather effective communication between nations and a range of tools that helped track the disease and its spread.

“We learnt that epidemics can be controlled without drugs or vaccines, using enhanced surveillance, case isolation, contact tracking, PPE and infection control measures,” MacIntyre said.

How to reduce your risk of coronavirus

With confirmed cases now seen in the US, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and potentially Australia, there is potential 2019-nCoV could be spreading much further afield. The WHO recommends a range of measures to protect yourself from contracting the disease based on good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene, in much the same way you would reduce the risk of contracting the flu.

A Twitter thread, developed by the WHO, is below.

This post was originally published on Jan. 19 and is updated as new information becomes available.

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Canada prepared to face coronavirus thanks to lessons learned from SARS: experts – CTV News



As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, including the first confirmed case in the U.S., so do concerns over the potential for an outbreak similar to the deadly 2003 SARS epidemic.

But experts say the Canadian health care system is well equipped to handle any potential coronavirus cases thanks to the lessons learned during the SARS outbreak, which led to the deaths of 44 Canadians and 774 people worldwide.

“Luckily, we’ve been through this before… I mean, sadly we’ve been through this before, but Canada is sensitized to this,” University Health Network researcher Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CTV’s Your Morning Tuesday.

“We’ve experienced the importation of a new virus and have systems in place should an infection get imported.”

The new illness, described by the World Health Organization as a novel coronavirus, falls under a larger family of coronaviruses which includes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

While these coronaviruses come from the same family and feature the same flu-like symptoms, Bogoch explained that much has changed since the deadly SARS outbreak. In fact, health officials didn’t confirm SARS was a coronavirus until the mid-way point of the outbreak.

“It’s only been 22 or 23 days since we’ve known that there is an outbreak occurring… we [the medical community] have sequenced the virus, which has been made publicly available, and there’s a World Health Organization meeting tomorrow, so there’s been a lot more cooperation and communication with this outbreak compared to years past,” he said.

On Tuesday, the U.S. became the fifth country to report a case of the illness, following China, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea.

The man returned to the Seattle area last week after travelling to the Wuhan area, where the outbreak began. Officials say the man, in his 30s, is in hospital in good condition.

No cases have been reported in Canada, and the country’s chief public health officer said there is no reason for panic as the risk to Canadians remains low.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams said hospitals are already employing protocols established during the 2003 SARS outbreak in anticipation of any Canadian cases.

“We’re getting calls already from hospitals and others that have clients they’ve seen that are concerned because they had some travel history to China,” Williams told CTV News Channel Tuesday.

“We still have no cases in Canada, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be aware of that and shouldn’t be alert to setting out systems up and being prepared in case that does occur.”

“This is our stress test”: Crowded hospitals the ultimate test of SARS lessons

But the proficiency of these systems could be challenged by overcrowded emergency rooms.

“SARS came to a hospital in Toronto in 2003. One case made three cases, three cases made 12 cases, and so on, and so on,” David Fisman, infectious disease expert and professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, told by phone Tuesday.

“What you see here is a bug that is behaving just like SARS did; just like MERS did… What we know from our experience from SARS is that we do have vulnerability in Toronto from hospital outbreaks.”

Fisman said that it’s likely Canada could see a case of coronavirus considering the number of Chinese nationals and Chinese-Canadians who live here, or have family here.

“In general, that should be no big deal outside of the healthcare context,” he explained.

“The difficulty is just the physical plant. People come to you, they’re sick and you can’t say go away. We don’t have a lot of space especially in our ERs.”

Overcrowding, especially during the height of flu season, is the perfect breeding ground for these types of outbreaks, Fisman said.

“I think people are more knowledgeable, and it’s a totally different world now in terms of how people with respiratory issues are handled,” he added.

“This is our stress test. Did we learn enough from SARS to not drop the ball this time?”

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