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What is anaplasmosis? A tick-borne disease with confirmed cases in Ontario

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Ontarians heading outdoors this summer are likely well-versed on the potential risk of Lyme disease that comes with a tick bite.

But there are three other pathogens that can be transmitted by blacklegged ticks that public health officials want you to know about – and confirmed cases have already been reported in Ontario.

Last month, Public Health Ontario (PHO) released an enhanced epidemiological summary on anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Powassan virus, all three of which were designated as “diseases of public health significance” by the Ministry of Health on July 1 of 2023.

According to the report, last year there were 40 cases of anaplasmosis in Ontario (17 confirmed and 23 probable) and 15 cases of babesiosis (eight confirmed and seven probable). There were no reported cases of Powassan virus.

Most of the cases were reported in the summer months, with 16 cases of anaplasmosis and 10 cases of babesiosis logged in July.

PHO data shows that the majority of the anaplasmosis infections were reported by public health units in eastern Ontario, including Kingston-Frontenac and Lennox and Lexington (KFL&A Public Health), where between 13 and 15 cases were reported.

The babesiosis cases were more widespread, with at least two infections reported in Toronto.

But what are these diseases and how do they differ from Lyme disease?

CTV News Toronto spoke with Dr. Richard Mather, PHO’s public health physician lead for vector-borne diseases, to learn more about the pathogens creeping up in Ontario and how people can protect themselves.

What are the symptoms of anaplasmosis? Babesiosis?

Mather explained that during early infection, it’s hard to distinguish between anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Lyme disease, because all three can cause flu-like symptoms, including fevers, chills, muscle aches and a headache.

However, Mather said one “big difference” is that the characteristic bullseye-like rash that appears in 70 to 80 per cent of people infected with Lyme disease does not appear in individuals infected with anaplasmosis or babesiosis.

“Most people will have a mild illness, [which is] self limiting, so it will get better on its own without treatment, which is often within 30 days,” he said. “But for some people, they can have severe disease. Severe symptoms could include things including respiratory problems, bleeding problems, organ failure, or death.”

Groups that are at risk of severe outcomes following an anaplasmosis or babesiosis infection include older adults, immunocompromised individuals and those with a delayed diagnosis.

Public Health Ontario Tick-borne disease data

“Severe disease isn’t that common. Some estimates by the Public Health Agency of Canada say that five to seven per cent of [anaplasmosis] patients would require intensive care and the case fatality rate is estimated at 0.6 per cent.”

Due to the “overlapping symptoms,” Mather said the only way to determine which disease you may be infected with is through bloodwork at a medical facility.

What do I do if I get bitten?

If you do find a tick on you, you should remove it as soon as possible and make sure not to crush or damage it in the process.

“You want to grasp it with tweezers as close to the skin as possible, so you’re taking the whole tick off and not leaving part of it on your body. Wash the area with soap and water and monitor yourself for the signs and symptoms of these tick-borne diseases,” Mather said.

If you suspect a tick has been attached to your body for more than 24 hours, the minimum amount of time required for the transmission of Lyme disease, or you’re developing symptoms, Mather suggests contacting your local health-care to discuss potential for medication to prevent Lyme disease.

“Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is available to prevent Lyme disease, but not currently recommended as a preventative medicine for those other diseases.”

If you suspect the tick has been attached for less than 24 hours, and you don’t have any symptoms, you don’t necessarily need to see a doctor, Mather said, but you should remove the tick right away and self-monitor.

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Lyme disease has been a publicly-reported disease in Ontario since 1988. Why are these diseases only being reported now?

While Mather said he couldn’t speak to the specific reasons why anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Powasson virus were listed as diseases of public health significance by the Ontario’s health ministry last July, he said there has been an increase in the number of cases in areas surrounding Ontario.

“So because we know we have the ticks that can transmit these diseases in Ontario, and we are seeing increasing number of the diseases in the States or provinces around Ontario, we can anticipate there’ll be an increased number of cases of these diseases in future years,” he said.

Mather said PHO is expecting the areas in which blacklegged are found in Ontario to increase in the future, due to a number of factors, including climate change, the migration of animal host species as well as land use pattern changes, which will bring more people into contact with the arachnids.

Mather anticipates that the number of anaplasmosis and babesiosis cases reported at the end of this year will be higher than 2023, largely because there will be a full 12 months of data to pull from and more awareness about the pathogens.

So far, in 2024, Ontario has seen one case of babesiosis and no cases of anaplasmosis or Powassan virus. Meanwhile, 102 cases of Lyme disease have been confirmed. In 2023, there were 1,795 confirmed or probable cases of Lyme disease.

How can I protect myself?

Officials say protecting yourself against anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Powassan virus comes down to prevention.

“Similar to Lyme disease, there’s no vaccine for these diseases. So the best way to avoid infection is to prevent a tick bite,” Mather said.

Ontarians are encouraged to wear light-coloured clothing, so it’s easier to see ticks, closed-toed shoes, long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks when entering a wooded area or an area with tall grass or bushes.

Using insect repellant is also recommended, but make sure it contains DEET or icaridin, and spray it on your clothes and exposed skin.

Once you get back indoors, check yourself and your children for ticks.

If you spot a tick on your clothing, throw those items in the dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes before washing.

 

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Several Vitamins Recalled Due to Potential Metal Contamination, Including Products Sold at Costco and Walmart

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Several types of vitamins, including some popular brands sold at major retailers like Costco and Walmart, are being recalled due to the possible presence of metal fibers. Health Canada issued three recall statements on Friday, highlighting the affected products and advising consumers on the necessary steps.

Among the brands involved in the recall is Kirkland Signature, a staple at Costco, along with Webber Naturals and other brands sold at multiple retailers across Canada, including Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart.

The vitamins listed in the recall are:

  • Kirkland Signature: B100 Complex Timed Release
  • Life: Vitamin B Complex with Vitamin C
  • Option+ & Life: Prenatal Multi-vitamins 100 Tablets with Folic Acid, Spectrum Prenatal Postpartum, Multivitamins & Minerals Women, Spectrum Women 22 Vitamins & Minerals plus Lutein, Lycopene
  • Webber Naturals: B50 Complex Timed Release, Most Complete Multi Womens 50+ One Per Day, Most Complete Multi Mens 50+ One Per Day, Vitamin B50 Complex
  • Wellness by London Drugs, Option+ & Life: Multi Women/Femmes 50+ with Lycopene and Lutein Multivitamin and Mineral, Multivitamin & Minerals Women 50+, 50+ SPECTRUM Women/Femmes 50+ 23 Vitamins & Minerals plus Lutein, Lycopene
  • Wellquest, Equate, Option+, Wellness by London Drugs & Life: Vitamin B100 Complex, Timed Release
  • Natural Factors: Hi Potency B Complex, RevitalX, Super Multi® IRON FREE
  • VegiDay Vegan Organic ALL IN ONE: VegiDay Vegan Organic ALL IN ONE

Health Canada advises consumers who have purchased any of the affected products to consult their healthcare provider before discontinuing use and to monitor for any health concerns.

Customers with concerns or questions can contact the recall firm directly. Additionally, any side effects or health product safety complaints should be reported to Health Canada.

For more detailed information, you can access the three Health Canada notices, which are listed under the Factors Group of Nutritional Companies Inc. recall, on the Health Canada website.

This recall serves as a reminder to consumers to stay vigilant about product safety and to follow recall advisories to ensure their health and well-being.

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8 Tips for Incorporating More Fruits into Your Dessert

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Incorporating more fruits into your desserts is not just a way to enhance flavours, but also a smart approach to add nutritional value to your treats. While desserts are often indulged as guilty pleasures, introducing fruits can transform these moments into healthier delights, enriching them with vitamins, minerals, and fibres. Whether you’re a home cook looking to improve your family’s diet or a culinary expert aiming to innovate your menu, adding fruits offers a myriad of benefits. These range from boosting the aesthetic appeal of your dishes with vibrant colours to enhancing the natural sweetness with a lower calorie count.

The tips provided here will help you seamlessly integrate more fruits into your dessert recipes, making them irresistibly wholesome and appealing to all ages. This approach not only caters to the health-conscious consumer but also opens up a palette of fresh, tantalizing flavours that can redefine what dessert means.

Explore Variety

Diversity is key in enriching desserts with fruits. Experiment with different textures and flavours, from berries to tropical fruits. This variety ensures each bite is unique and delightful. Try combining sour cherries with sweet mangoes, or add citrus segments to balance richer desserts. Even blending frozen bananas into a creamy texture can mimic ice cream. Consider adding a double fudge bar frozen dessert to your fruit platter for an indulgent twist.

Use Fresh and Seasonal Fruits

Seasonal fruits offer the best in flavour and nutrition. Incorporate fresh, local produce into your desserts to capture peak tastiness. Fresh strawberries or peaches can elevate simple dishes like ice cream or cakes. Local farmers’ markets are ideal for finding the freshest options. Remember, the closer the fruit is grown to its consumption point, the more nutrients it retains. This approach supports local agriculture as well.

Make Fruit the Star

Create desserts where fruits are the main attraction. Dishes like fruit tarts or berry-packed pavlovas highlight the natural sweetness of fruits, reducing the need for added sugars. Let fruits dictate the dessert’s flavour profile and design, focusing on the natural colours to attract the eye. This strategy can make even simple dishes feel luxurious and crafted with care. Plus, it often leads to lighter, less calorie-dense desserts.

Opt for Healthier Preparations

Instead of always baking or frying, try raw preparations or use healthier cooking methods like grilling or poaching. Grilled pineapple or poached pears offer a delightful texture and are easy to prepare. These methods preserve the integrity and nutritional value of the fruit better than baking or frying. Cooking fruit in this way can also unlock new flavours, enhancing your dessert experience. Try brushing fruit with a little honey or maple syrup before grilling for a caramelized finish.

Experiment with Spices

Spices can enhance the natural flavour of fruits. A dash of cinnamon, cardamom, or vanilla complements fruits like apples and pears beautifully, adding complexity to any dessert. Nutmeg and ginger are also excellent with juicy fruits like peaches and plums. Experimenting with spices can transform a simple fruit dish into an exotic and enticing dessert. Such additions are simple but effective ways to elevate the taste without added sugar.

Incorporate Dried Fruits

Dried fruits are concentrated in flavour and can be a great addition to desserts. Sprinkle raisins, dried cranberries, or chopped dates over oatmeal cookies or mix them into homemade granola bars for a chewy texture. Dried fruits work well in baked goods because they provide a burst of sweetness and texture. They are also perfect for decorating cakes and adding to snack mixes. Be mindful of the sugar content in store-bought dried fruits, opting for unsweetened varieties when available.

Create Colourful Fruit Layers

Layer fruits in parfaits, trifles, or cakes to create visually appealing and delicious desserts. Layers of colourful fruits not only look spectacular, but also offer varied flavours and textures. This layering technique can be applied in smoothie bowls and gelatin desserts for a stunning visual effect. Try to choose fruits that contrast in colour and texture for the most striking presentations. These desserts are particularly appealing to children and can make eating fruit more exciting for them.

Finish with A Healthy Twist

Top off your desserts with a nutritious twist, such as a dollop of Greek yogurt or a sprinkle of nuts and seeds for extra crunch and nutrients. These additions provide a contrast in textures and increase the health benefits of your dessert. Nuts add healthy fats and proteins, making the dessert more satisfying. Consider using a drizzle of natural sweeteners like honey or agave nectar to enhance flavour without resorting to refined sugars. Such finishes not only improve taste but also boost nutritional value, aligning with a healthier lifestyle.

Incorporating fruits into your desserts is an enjoyable way to make your sweet dishes healthier and more flavourful. By using fruits in various forms, from frozen to dried, and employing them in creative ways, such as natural sweeteners or vibrant toppings, you can transform any dessert into a delightful and nutritious treat. So next time you prepare a dessert, remember these tips and enjoy the added benefits of fruits in your culinary creations.

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5 Life-Transforming Tips to Make it More Fun-Filled

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Everyone wants to make the most out of life. From personal life to establishing a successful career, enjoyment is all that people crave the most. But the key to happiness is having fun most of the time. It can be challenging to find time and moments of fun in the routine as life becomes boring and dull for many.

However, you can cultivate your mindset and embrace more pleasure and laughter in your everyday routine. To transform your boring and dull life into a fun-filled one, here are a few tips that you can consider in this blog.

Read on to explore!

 

1.    Start Enjoying Little Moments

The fun doesn’t need to come from an extensive and spectacular event happening around your life all the time. There are so many small moments in your life that can turn into more fun. All you have to do is embrace those little times in your life and be happy.

For example, you can give yourself a little break from a hectic day and enjoy some chocolate. Or you can make time to enjoy things that you like.

 

2.    Be Spontaneous In Life

Just like life becomes unexpected most of the time, you can be a little unpredictable with it as well. To bring fun to your life, you can work on being more open to new and unplanned experiences.

If you get an invitation for any activity, event, or sport, don’t say no to it. Getting to indulge in more social activities will help you create new memories and experience new thrills in life.

 

3.    Bring a Furry Friend in Life

A boring life can easily distance you from fun. To embrace joy in life, having a furry company can do wonders. You can cherish love and warmth and have little moments of joy with a furry one.

If you don’t have a furry companion, you’re majorly missing joy. It’s time for you to look for the best puppy-selling company, such as Fou Fou Puppie’s website, to bring a cute puppy into your life.

 

4.    Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness will help you to live the present to the fullest. As most people worry more about their future, it makes them overlook the current joys of life.

What you can consider best to bring fun to your life is practicing mindfulness for at least 2 minutes. Let go of all the thoughts that pop into your head and focus on the positive aspects of living.

 

5.    Participate More in Fun Activities

There should be no excuse for having fun in life as there are many low-cost fun activities for the community that you can explore to have fun. It can be simple, but it prevents you from living a boring and less-inspiring life.

For example, you can call your group of friends to have coffee together and share more laughter, or you can go to the movies to unwind yourself. These activities will not cost you a fortune and allow you to make the most out of your day, week, and month.

 

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