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Sask. Health Authority declares syphilis outbreak – Prince Albert Daily Herald



Dr. Khami Chokani, a medical health officer in Prince Albert for the SHA, speaks to media on Dec. 19, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

The Saskatchewan
Health Authority (SHA) has declared a syphilis outbreak in
north-central Saskatchewan, including in the Prince Albert area.

According to a press
release issued Thursday, an outbreak has been declared for the area
that includes Prince Abert, Big River, Shellbrook, Spiritwood, Birch
Hills, Christopher lake and surrounding communities. Syphilis is a
sexually-transmitted infection (STI) spread from person to person
through direct contact with a syphilis sore.

The outbreak was
declared because, in the four months from August to November, 21
cases were confirmed. The average number of annual cases in the
region is seven or fewer.


“That has prompted
us to declare an outbreak so that we can pull our resources together
(and) work together with other health care professionals,” said Dr.
Khami Chokani, medical health officer Prince Albert with the SHA.

The aim, he said, is
to investigate why the outbreak has occurred and identify what gaps
might exist or challenges people might be facing.

“We want people to
be safe,” he said.

“It is primarily
spread through person-to-person contact. It is also spread from the
mother to an unborn baby. That is what is driving us more than
anything else because the age group that is predominately affected is
that reproductive age group. It puts… our unborn population at

The outbreak is the
third declared in Saskatchewan this year. One was declared int the
North Battleford-Lloydminster area in June, and Indigenous Services
Canada reported 83 new cases across the province’s 82 Indigenous
communities this year, a 2,000 per cent increase since 2017.

The local outbreak
has hit people of all ages, from 25 right up to 65, Chokani said.

“It’s a whole
spectrum. It’s hitting anybody who is sexually active.”

One thing many of
the cases here and elsewhere have in common is it is increasing in
young people and women of child-bearing age having unprotected sex
with multiple partners.

According to a
report from the Saskatoon StarPhoenix from just one week ago, 43 per
cent of syphilis cases this year were women, compared to just seven
per cent in 2017.

The leading risk
factor in new cases in the province is a previous STI. But Dr.
Ibrahim Khan

said he’s worried
by a newer trend driving syphilis infections: sex fuelled by crystal

“We also saw
crystal meth play a role,” Khan said. “When you use meth, you
usually aren’t too worried about using a condom.”

Some of those trends
are playing out in Prince Albert too.

Chokani said that in
over 90 per cent of cases, the person infected did not use a condom.
About 46 per cent had been using a drug.

“We do know that
some drugs — the side effect is inhibitions are lowered,” he

“We’re going to be
doing a look back. Us having an outbreak will allow us to investigate
what has been going on and what has caused this. Because we just
don’t go from six cases in a year to 21 in four months.”

outbreak follows similar trends across Canada and in the United
States. The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates syphilis rates
in Alberta, for example, increased by more than 800 per cent this

It’s also not the
only STI on the rise; rates of gonorrhea in Saskatchewan have
increased by more than 80 per cent since 2016. In the 2017-18 federal
budget, $4.3 million was allotted to fight the spread of STIs in

Heather Hale,
executive director of Saskatoon Sexual Health, said the silver lining
of the rising figures is that more people are getting tested and
catching the illness early. Her centre has seen a 72 per cent
increase in the number of tests conducted compared to the same period
last year.

“If you’re doing
more testing, that usually means you’re going to have more
incidents,” Hale said.

For people at risk,
the best step is to seek medical advice — either from a local
physician or any sexual health clinic.

Getting tested is
important, Chokani said, as for many people, Syphilis can be

“It can remain
like that for decades and only reappear several decades later. A
feature of infectious syphilis is a sore, and it is painless and
disappears in seven to ten days whether you put treatment on it or
not,” he said

“Because it
disappears does not mean you don’t have an infection. now the
infection has the opportunity to spread and stay within your body.”

Chokani said a
frustration is that even when people do get tested, they sometimes
aren’t available for a follow-up. Tracking down people who have
gotten tested has also reportedly been difficult in other

Syphilis is
treatable, Chokani said, but you have to know you have it. The
testing is a simple blood test, and treatment is a pair of
injections. It can take 21 days after treatment to be cured of the

He added that the
health authority estimates that each positive case had at least four
other contacts, meaning the current 21 cases could have impacted as
many as 84 people.

“Voila – that is a
challenge. When you go see your family physician or nurse
practitioner, give them some contact information you know you can be
gotten ahold of at because it’s really, really important,” he said.

Chokani believes
part of the reason it can be so hard to track people down is because
they don’t want to know their results.

“Even when they’re given their results, they’re not coming back for their treatment,” Chokani said.

“We’re not saying don’t have sex, have it, but be safe take all the precautions that are necessary for you to be safe.”

“We are humans, it is difficult to expect that people will always be abstinent. but what we can ask is people always be safe. if there is a doubt, a question, go get yourself tested. There’s nothing better than knowing what it is and getting yourself treated. When you have it treated, great, you’re good to go.”

— With Daily Herald files from Jayda Noyes and StarPhoenix files from Zak Vescera

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The Key Role of Trustworthy Babysitters in Balancing Work and Family Life




Are you a busy parent in constant pursuit of the elusive work-life balance? We know firsthand how overwhelming and challenging it can be to juggle professional commitments while still having quality time with your children.

That’s why we’re here to discuss an essential ingredient that unlocks the secret to harmony: trustworthy babysitters.

What Characteristics Parents Should Look for When Choosing a Babysitter?

Parents should look for a few key characteristics when choosing a babysitter. A good babysitter should be patient, responsible, and reliable. They should also be comfortable with children and have prior experience caring for them.

Besides, the babysitter must be able to communicate effectively and follow directions well. The babysitter should be someone the parents can trust to care for their children in their absence.


Strategies for Parents to Establish Reasonable Anticipations

As a parent, finding babysitters you can trust to care for your children is vital. However, it is also important to establish reasonable expectations for your babysitters.

Some tips for establishing reasonable expectations for babysitters include:

  1. Set clear expectations: Sit down with your babysitter to discuss bedtime routines, dietary preferences, and any necessary medications.
  2. Allow flexibility: While clarity is vital, also provide room for your babysitter to use their judgment and feel comfortable in their role.
  3. Trust their expertise: Once expectations are set, trust your babysitter’s judgment as a professional caregiver to avoid undermining their authority and creating discomfort in their role.

Determining a Fair Payment Plan

Determine your babysitting budget, factoring in your income and family size, while researching local rates. Account for the babysitter’s experience and qualifications, giving preference to those recommended by trusted sources.

Engage in open negotiations with your chosen babysitter. This aims to find a mutually agreeable arrangement that accommodates both your budget and their needs.

Tips on Finding Trustworthy and Compassionate Caregivers

When seeking a caregiver for your child, to ensure you find the right fit:

  • Seek recommendations from trusted sources such as friends, family, and neighbours who may have suggestions for caregivers in your area.
  • Conduct online research to review feedback and check references to gauge candidates’ qualifications and experience.
  • Request references and contact details from the caregivers’ previous employers or families they have worked with.
  • Trust your instincts and ensure you feel at ease with the caregiver, ensuring they are someone you can entrust with your child’s well-being.


Being able to trust your babysitter means you can have peace of mind knowing your child is safe and cared for.

Spending some time researching online reviews or asking friends and family for recommendations will help you find the perfect fit so you can feel more at ease while juggling work commitments in today’s hectic world.

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Facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home



THUNDER BAY — St. Joseph’s Care Group and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit have declared a facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home, part of the St. Joseph’s Heritage complex on Carrie Street near Red River Road.

The respiratory outbreak at the 112-bed facility was declared effective Sept. 15 but only announced publicly on Monday.

No details were provided with regard to the number of people affected to date.

Restrictions are now in place for admissions, transfers, discharges, social activities and visitation until further notice.




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Alberta COVID hospitalizations up 73% since July: health minister



Three weeks after the start of the school year, Alberta’s health minister provided an update on the spread of airborne viruses in the province.

Adriana LaGrange also said more information about flu and next-generation COVID-19 vaccines will soon be released.

“Now that we will be spending more time indoors, we need to make doubly sure we are following proper hygiene protocols like handwashing and staying home when sick,” LaGrange said. “It also means respecting those who choose to wear a mask.”


Global News previously reported that influenza vaccines will be available on Oct. 16 with the new Moderna vaccine formulated to target the XBB.1.5 variant likely to be available at around the same time. On Sept. 12, Health Canada approved the use of the Moderna vaccine.

“More information on immunizations against respiratory viruses including influenza and COVID-19 will be available shortly,” the health minister said.

LaGrange said there have been 28 cases of influenza and five lab-confirmed cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) since Aug. 28.

“This is consistent activity for this time of the year,” the health minister said in a statement.

The end of August or the beginning of September has typically marked the beginning of flu season for provincial health authorities.

LaGrange also provided an update on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the province.

From Aug. 28 to Sept. 8, there were a total 92 new hospitalizations and three ICU admissions, bringing the total to 417 in hospital and seven in ICU, a 73 per cent increase of COVID hospitalizations from the last reported info.

On July 24 – the last update to the province’s COVID data dashboard – there were only 242 in hospital.

“Sadly, five Albertans died during that period due to COVID-19,” LaGrange said.

LaGrange said the reporting dashboard is being refreshed to include RSV, influenza and COVID-19 data, work that was originally expected to be completed on Aug. 30. The latest data on the province’s influenza statistics dashboard is dated July 22.

“This work is currently underway and will be available in the coming weeks,” LaGrange said.

She said data for the dates between July 24 and Aug. 27 will be available when the new dashboard goes online.

Amid more hospitals continent-wide reinstating masking requirements in the face of increased hospitalizations, the health minister made no mention of any such moves for Alberta hospitals. Acute care COVID-19 outbreaks in Alberta jumped from Sept. 5 to 12, with 146 per cent more healthcare workers and 55 per cent more patients testing positive for COVID.

LaGrange stressed the “collective responsibility” to prevent the spread of airborne viruses like COVID and influenza.

“As a mother and grandmother, I understand the anxiety that comes with sending your children back to school. I want to reassure you that Alberta’s government has the health and well-being of all young Albertans top of mind,” the health minister said.

–with files from Meghan Cobb, Global News



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