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1.  Canadian hepatitis C look-back investigation to detect transmission from an infected general surgeon 
In February 2007, a general surgeon in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, tested positive for hepatitis C virus (HCV). The surgeon’s infection onset date could not be determined; however, episodic hepatic enzyme elevations were first detected in November 2004 and again in February 2007. HCV transmission during surgery, alhough rare, has been documented. A phased look-back HCV screening program was conducted to detect HCV transmission from this surgeon to patients who underwent the highest-risk procedures in the three years before his positive test.
Highest-risk procedures were defined as exposure-prone procedures (EPP) in which exposure to the surgeon’s blood was most likely. EPP patients from January 2004 to February 2007 were identified using hospital and administrative records. Linkages with the provincial notifiable disease for HCV was performed, and death records for deceased EPP patients were reviewed. Eligible patients were invited for screening.
Of 6248 patients seen in phase 1, 272 (4.4%) were identified to be EPP. Of the 272 patients, 248 (91.1%) were invited for HCV testing and 24 (8.8%) were deceased. To date, 231 of 248 (93.1%) patients have presented for screening. Two patients (one alive, one deceased) were HCV positive before their EPP. Viral sequence of the surgeon’s isolate is unrelated to the first patient; the second individual has a resolved infection (polymerase chain reaction negative). No new transmission events were identified in the screened patients. The 95% CI of the transmission probability was estimated to be 0 to 0.016.
HCV transmission from the surgeon during a 38-month look back was unlikely. In the absence of protocols for investigating HCV transmission from infected health care workers, screening was initially prioritized to the highest-risk patients. The investigation has been satisfactorily terminated based on these results.
PMCID: PMC2852288  PMID: 21358878
Hepatitis C virus; Nosocomial infection; Provider-to-patient transmission; Phylogenetic analysis
2.  Airflow obstruction in young adults in Canada 
Airflow obstruction is relatively uncommon in young adults, and may indicate potential for the development of progressive disease. The objective of the present study was to enumerate and characterize airflow obstruction in a random sample of Canadians aged 20 to 44 years.
The sample (n=2962) was drawn from six Canadian sites.
A prevalence study using the European Community Respiratory Health Survey protocol was conducted. Airflow obstruction was assessed by spirometry. Bronchial responsiveness, skin reactivity to allergens and total serum immunoglobulin E were also measured. Logistic regression was used for analysis.
Airflow obstruction was observed in 6.4% of the sample, not associated with sex or age. The risk of airflow obstruction increased in patients who had smoked and in patients who had lung trouble during childhood. Adjusted for smoking, the risk of airflow obstruction was elevated for subjects with past and current asthma, skin reactivity to allergens, elevated levels of total immunoglobulin E and bronchial hyper-responsiveness. Of the subjects with airflow obstruction, 21% were smokers with a history of asthma, 50% were smokers without asthma, 12% were nonsmokers with asthma and 17% were nonsmokers with no history of asthma. Bronchial hyper-responsiveness increased the prevalence of airflow obstruction in each of these groups.
Smoking and asthma, jointly and individually, are major determinants of obstructive disorders in young adults. Bronchial hyper-responsiveness contributes to obstruction in both groups.
PMCID: PMC2676367  PMID: 17551598
Airway obstruction; Obstructive lung disease; Risk factors; Young adults
3.  Canada's first universal varicella immunization program: Lessons from Prince Edward Island 
A live attenuated varicella vaccine was licensed in Canada in December 1998. The first universal varicella immunization program in Canada was initiated in Prince Edward Island in 2000. Students in grades one to six without a history of varicella were offered the vaccine, administered by Public Health Nurses, in school clinics during February and March 2000. The acceptance rate ranged from 29.1% of all grade one students to 9.8% of all grade six students; overall, 18.8% of students received the vaccine. A universal program for children 12 months of age was introduced on April 1, 2000 and catch-up clinics for those between 12 months of age and those in grade one were introduced in June 2000. Repeated media announcements and the cooperation of staff in schools and daycare facilities assisted in informing parents about the availability of the vaccine. Vaccine-associated adverse events have been uncommon and the vaccine has been well accepted.
PMCID: PMC2094900  PMID: 18159424
Chickenpox; Chickenpox vaccine; Varicella; Varicella vaccine
4.  Prevalence of asthma symptoms among adults aged 20–44 years in Canada 
Reported prevalence rates of asthma vary within and between countries around the world. These differences suggest environmental factors in addition to genetic factors in the cause of the disease and may provide clues for preventive strategies. We examined the variability of asthma-related symptoms and medication use among adults in 6 sites across Canada (Vancouver, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Montreal, Halifax and Prince Edward Island) and compared our findings with those from sites that had participated in a recent European survey.
We used the same sampling strategy and standardized questionnaire as those used in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS). The 6 Canadian sites were selected to represent different environments with respect to climate, air pollution and occupational exposure. Community-based samples of 3000 to 4000 people aged 20–44 years were randomly selected in each site. Subjects were asked to complete the questionnaire by mail between March 1993 and November 1994. Prevalence rates (and 95% confidence intervals [CIs]) of asthma symptoms, self-reported asthma attacks and use of asthma medication were compared across the Canadian sites and with sites that had participated in the ECRHS.
The overall response rate of those selected to receive the questionnaire was 86.5% (range 74.5%–92.8%). The prevalence rates of most asthma symptoms varied significantly among the Canadian sites. For instance, 21.9% (Montreal) to 30.4% (Halifax) of the men and 24.0% (Vancouver) to 35.2% (Halifax) of the women reported wheezing in the year before the survey. Depending on the site, 4.4% to 6.3% of the men and 5.2% to 9.5% of the women reported an asthma attack in the last year, and 4.0% to 6.1% of the men and 4.9% to 9.7% of the women were currently using asthma medication. Prevalence rates of symptoms, asthma attacks and medication use did not change with age, but they were higher among women than among men. Compared with the results from the ECRHS sites, those from the Canadian sites were among the highest.
Significant variation in the prevalence of asthma symptoms, asthma attacks and use of asthma medication between Canadian sites and international sites suggests environmental influences. Different combinations of factors in different sites may be responsible for the high prevalence rates and should be the subject of further research to guide clinical management and public health intervention.
PMCID: PMC80927  PMID: 11314453

Results 1-5 (5)