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

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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
risk.”

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
meth.

“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
said.

“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.”

Saskatchewan’s
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
year.

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
Saskatchewan.

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
asymptomatic.

“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
jurisdictions.

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
infection.

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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CDC Now Warns COVID Can Be Spread This Way – Yahoo Canada Shine On

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The CDC updated its guidance about how you could catch COVID-19, saying the disease can be transmitted by aerosols that hang in the air. That means you’ll want to avoid poorly-ventilated indoor spaces where people are doing the following things—read on, and to protect your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.” data-reactid=”12″>The CDC updated its guidance about how you could catch COVID-19, saying the disease can be transmitted by aerosols that hang in the air. That means you’ll want to avoid poorly-ventilated indoor spaces where people are doing the following things—read on, and to protect your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.

When a Person Sneezes

Ill man wearing grey sweater, yellow hat and spectacles, blowing nose and sneeze into tissue
Ill man wearing grey sweater, yellow hat and spectacles, blowing nose and sneeze into tissue

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The droplets can really get you when someone sneezes. National Geographic went to a lab at MIT and found scientist Lydia Bourouiba studying sneezes: "Slowed to 2,000 frames per second, video and images from her lab show that a fine mist of mucus and saliva can burst from a person’s mouth at nearly a hundred miles an hour and travel as far as 27 feet."” data-reactid=”25″>The droplets can really get you when someone sneezes. National Geographic went to a lab at MIT and found scientist Lydia Bourouiba studying sneezes: “Slowed to 2,000 frames per second, video and images from her lab show that a fine mist of mucus and saliva can burst from a person’s mouth at nearly a hundred miles an hour and travel as far as 27 feet.”

When a Person Sings

Male And Female Students Singing In Choir At Performing Arts SchoolMale And Female Students Singing In Choir At Performing Arts School
Male And Female Students Singing In Choir At Performing Arts School

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content=""Singing in a room for an extended period of time, in close contact with lots of people and no ventilation—that’s a recipe for disaster," Shelly Miller, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, told NPR. "In preliminary research published on July 13, Miller and her fellow researchers found that singers, as well as certain wind and brass instrumentalists, generate respiratory aerosols at high rates. In other words, they spew a lot of droplets into the air when they warble or blow."” data-reactid=”38″>“Singing in a room for an extended period of time, in close contact with lots of people and no ventilation—that’s a recipe for disaster,” Shelly Miller, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, told NPR. “In preliminary research published on July 13, Miller and her fellow researchers found that singers, as well as certain wind and brass instrumentalists, generate respiratory aerosols at high rates. In other words, they spew a lot of droplets into the air when they warble or blow.”

When a Person Talks

Two friends watching media content in a smart phoneTwo friends watching media content in a smart phone
Two friends watching media content in a smart phone
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Yes, just talking can spread COVID-19. "The act of speaking generates droplets that vary in size. Larger droplets pose less of a risk, since they ‘fall quickly to the ground,’ according to the researchers, but smaller ones can dehydrate and linger in the air, essentially acting like an aerosol," reports Health.com, relaying a correspondence published in the New England Journal of Medicine, by researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania "This ‘expand[s] the spatial extent of emitted infectious particles,’ the authors said."” data-reactid=”55″>Yes, just talking can spread COVID-19. “The act of speaking generates droplets that vary in size. Larger droplets pose less of a risk, since they ‘fall quickly to the ground,’ according to the researchers, but smaller ones can dehydrate and linger in the air, essentially acting like an aerosol,” reports Health.com, relaying a correspondence published in the New England Journal of Medicine, by researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania “This ‘expand[s] the spatial extent of emitted infectious particles,’ the authors said.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="RELATED: COVID Mistakes You Should Never Make” data-reactid=”56″>RELATED: COVID Mistakes You Should Never Make

When a Person Breathes

man relaxing after work breathing fresh air sitting at home office desk with laptopman relaxing after work breathing fresh air sitting at home office desk with laptop
man relaxing after work breathing fresh air sitting at home office desk with laptop

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="COVID-19 can be spread even when a person just breathes, says the CDC. A study from the United States National Academy of Sciences, Engineering&amp;Medicine confirmed it: "The study reported that even breathing or talking could possibly release tiny particles (Bioaerosols) carrying the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID 19," writes author Ramananda Ningthoujam. "The team explained that the virus can stay suspended in the air in the ultrafine mist that is produced when infected people exhale. They recommended wearing masks while going out in public places."” data-reactid=”69″>COVID-19 can be spread even when a person just breathes, says the CDC. A study from the United States National Academy of Sciences, Engineering&Medicine confirmed it: “The study reported that even breathing or talking could possibly release tiny particles (Bioaerosols) carrying the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID 19,” writes author Ramananda Ningthoujam. “The team explained that the virus can stay suspended in the air in the ultrafine mist that is produced when infected people exhale. They recommended wearing masks while going out in public places.”

When a Person Coughs

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content=""To help stop the spread of germs," says the CDC:” data-reactid=”78″>“To help stop the spread of germs,” says the CDC:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • Throw used tissues in the trash
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss this essential list of 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”83″>And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss this essential list of 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus

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CDC updates guidance to warn coronavirus can be transmitted through the air by breathing — but then removes it – CBS News

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its COVID-19 guidance to acknowledge the risk that the coronavirus can be transmitted through airborne respiratory particles — but then edited its website again Monday morning to take that information down, saying it was still being reviewed.

Before it was taken down, the updated guidance said the coronavirus is most commonly spread “through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols,” which are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks or even just breathes, and which can remain airborne for a period of time. The virus can then spread to other people who inhale it into their airways.

Many scientists and health experts have been warning for months that COVID-19 can spread through airborne respiratory particles, not just through larger droplets from an infected person coughing or sneezing nearby.

“There is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others, and travel distances beyond 6 feet (for example, during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes),” the CDC’s updated, but then deleted, guidance said. “In general, indoor environments without good ventilation increase this risk.”

But on Monday — as the number of U.S. deaths from COVID-19 approached 200,000 — the CDC updated the page again to remove the information about the risk of airborne transmission, with a disclaimer at the top: “A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency’s official website,” the notice read. “CDC is currently updating its recommendations regarding airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Once this process has been completed, the update language will be posted.”

When asked by CBS News what the issues were with the language on airborne transmission, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said, “It’s poorly written. The bottom line is aerosol transmission [is] possible but not the main way that [it] spreads.”

CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook explained, “It may not be the main way it spreads, but there’s good evidence that the virus can spread through the air under certain circumstances at distances greater than 6 feet.”

The page still states that the virus is spread “through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks,” but the information about tiny airborne droplets, like those in aerosols, has been removed. The page also no longer lists breathing as a way to transmit the virus. 

Instead, the page reads: “These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.” The Monday update also says COVID-19 is primarily spread between people who have close contact (within 6 feet), and includes that it may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms. 

In July, the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledged the airborne transmission of “micro-droplets” as a possible cause of COVID-19 infections. WHO’s acknowledgment came after 239 scientists signed an open letter about the risk of airborne transmission. 

Very few diseases — tuberculosis, chicken pox and measles — have been deemed transmissible through aerosols. However, Japan, for example, had been operating for months on the assumption that tiny, aerosolized particles in crowded settings were fueling the spread of the coronavirus. Back in February, Japan adopted a strategy to fight airborne transmission of COVID-19 by telling residents to avoid “the three Cs” — cramped spaces, crowded areas and close conversation.

The CDC’s guidance also explains that the closer and longer a person with COVID-19 is with others, the higher the risk of spreading the virus to those people. 

On Friday, the CDC also updated its testing guidance after nearly a month of controversy over the role of political interference from officials at the Department of Health and Human Services overriding the CDC’s scientists. In late August, the CDC’s website was quietly revised to say that people who had been exposed to someone with coronavirus but weren’t showing symptoms might not need testing. That caused an uproar among medical experts because asymptomatic people can easily spread the virus to others.

The new guidance now says, “Due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this guidance further reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons, including close contacts of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

Many public health experts have long advised that even asymptomatic people should be tested if they suspect they’ve been in contact with someone who was infected. In July, a model published by the National Academy of Sciences, showed an estimated 50% of coronavirus cases may be spread by people who aren’t showing symptoms. 

Lucy Craft contributed to this report.

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CDC abruptly removes guidance about airborne COVID-19 transmission, says update 'was posted in error' – CTV News

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday abruptly reverted to its previous guidance about how coronavirus is transmitted, removing language about airborne transmission it had posted just days earlier.

“A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency’s official website. CDC is currently updating its recommendations regarding airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Once this process has been completed, the update language will be posted,” Jason McDonald, a CDC spokesman, said in a response emailed to CNN.

The guidance had been quietly updated on Friday, according to the CDC’s website. CNN was first to report the change on Sunday. The CDC responded to CNN just before noon on Monday to say it was reverting to the previous guidance.

Despite several studies that have shown the novel coronavirus can spread through small particles in the air, the CDC page now says that Covid-19 is thought to spread mainly between people in close contact — about 6 feet — and “through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.” This is the same language it posted months ago.

In language posted Friday and now removed, CDC said Covid-19 most commonly spread between people who are in close contact with one another, and went on to say it’s known to spread “through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols, produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks or breathes.”

These particles can cause infection when “inhaled into the nose, mouth, airways, and lungs,” the agency said. “This is thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”

“There is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others, and travel distances beyond 6 feet (for example, during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes),” the page said in the Friday update, which has since been removed. “In general, indoor environments without good ventilation increase this risk.”

In the Friday update, the CDC had added new measures to protect yourself in others, including recommendations to use air purifiers to reduce airborne germs in indoors spaces and clear guidance to “stay at least 6 feet away from others, whenever possible.” The updated CDC page had also changed language around asymptomatic transmission, shifting from saying “some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus” to saying “people who are infected but do not show symptoms can spread the virus to others.” That language has now been removed.

Also on Friday, CDC updated its coronavirus testing guidance to stress that anyone who has been in contact with an infected person should be tested for coronavirus. A controversial earlier update was not written by CDC scientists and posted online before it had undergone the normal scientific review process, two sources confirmed to CNN last week.

CNN reported last week that US Health and Human Services communications officials appointed by President Trump had recently pushed to change language of weekly science reports released by the CDC so as not to undermine Trump’s political message, according to a federal health official. Officials within HHS had defended the demand, saying the CDC fell under the agency’s umbrella and that all communications and public documents needed to be cleared at the top. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said last week “at no time has the scientific integrity” of these reports been compromised.

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