Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Ottawa, Manitoba, Canada
Recent publications
Background and objectives Safety and effectiveness concerns may preclude physicians from recommending vaccination in mild/moderate inborn errors of immunity (IEI). This study describes attitudes and practices regarding vaccination among physicians who care for patients with mild/moderate B cell or mild/moderate combined immunodeficiencies (CID) and vaccination completeness among patients diagnosed with IEIs. Methods Canadian physicians caring for children with IEI were surveyed about attitudes and practices regarding vaccination in mild/moderate IEI. Following informed consent, immunization records of pediatric patients with IEI evaluated before 7 years of age were reviewed. Vaccine completeness was defined at age 2 years as 4 doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTaP), 3 doses pneumococcal conjugate (PCV), and 1 dose measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccines. At 7 years 5 doses of DTP and 2 doses MMR were required. Results Forty-five physicians from 8 provinces completed the survey. Most recommended inactivated vaccines for B cell deficiency: (84% (38/45) and CID (73% (33/45). Fewer recommended live attenuated vaccines (B cell: 53% (24/45), CID 31% (14/45)). Of 96 patients with IEI recruited across 7 centers, vaccination completeness at age 2 was 25/43 (58%) for predominantly antibody, 3/13 (23%) for CID, 7/35 (20%) for CID with syndromic features, and 4/4 (100%) for innate/phagocyte defects. Completeness at age 7 was 15%, 17%, 5%, and 33%, respectively. Conclusion Most physicians surveyed recommended inactivated vaccines in children with mild to moderate IEI. Vaccine completeness for all IEI was low, particularly at age 7. Further studies should address the reasons for low vaccine uptake among children with IEI and whether those with mild-moderate IEI, where vaccination is recommended, eventually receive all indicated vaccines.
Background System-level approaches that target social determinants of health are promising strategies to support substance use prevention, holistic youth development and wellbeing. Yet, the youth services system is largely based on individual-focused programs that do not adequately account for social determinants of health and place the responsibility for wellness on the individual. There is a need to understand how to enhance adoption of complex system-level approaches that support comprehensive youth development. The Icelandic Prevention Model (IPM) represents a collaborative initiative that takes an ecological, system-level approach to prevent substance use and promote wellness in youth. This research was designed to examine key stakeholder perceptions to better understand social motivations and contextual complexities that influence stakeholder support to garner community-level adoption of the IPM in a rural Canadian community. Methods This research applies a case study approach using qualitative interviews to explore strategies to support uptake in the early stages of IPM adoption associated with developing community buy-in and acceptance. A thematic analysis was applied using QSR NVivo. Results Nine interviews were conducted with community partners leading the implementation of the IPM. Three over-arching themes emerged from the data: 1) Motivating influences 2) Strategies to develop buy-in, and 3) Resistance to the adoption of the IPM. Findings reflect issues that affect behaviour change in system transformation in general as well as upstream prevention and the IPM, in particular. Conclusions The findings from this research describe critical insight derived from implementing community-driven initiatives that are designed to support health promotion. It contributes new scientific knowledge related to implementation of complex system-level innovations and practical information that is useful for communities interested in implementing the IPM or following similar approaches to prevent substance use.
Oxford Nanopore long-read sequencing offers advantages over Illumina short-reads for the identification and characterization of bacterial pathogens for outbreak detection and surveillance activities within a diagnostic public health laboratory context. Compared to Illumina, Nanopore is more cost-effective for small batches, has a lower capital cost, and has a faster turnaround time, in addition to the ability to assemble complete bacterial genomes. The quantity and quality of DNA required for Nanopore sequencing is higher than Illumina, and DNA extraction methods recommended for obtaining high molecular weight DNA are different from those typically used in diagnostic laboratories. Using a Salmonella isolate with a previously closed PacBio genome as a model Enterobacteriaceae organism, we evaluated the quantity, quality, and fragmentation of five commercial DNA extraction kits. Nanopore sequencing performance was evaluated for the top three methods: Qiagen EZ1 DNA Tissue, Qiagen DNeasy Blood and Tissue, and a modified, in-house version of the MasterPure Complete DNA and RNA purification. To evaluate the effect of post-extraction DNA purification methods, we subjected extracted DNA from the three selected extraction methods to purification by AMPure beads or ethanol precipitation and compared these outputs with untreated DNA as a control. All methods are suitable for routine Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS), since all 60 replicates had very high genome recovery rates, with ≥ 98% of the reference genome covered by mapped Nanopore reads. For 85% of the replicates, assembly was able to produce a complete, circular chromosome using either Flye or Canu. In most cases, it is recommended to move directly from extraction to sequencing as untreated DNA had the highest rates of genome closure regardless of extraction method. Using our evaluation criteria, the Qiagen DNeasy Blood and Tissue kit was found to be the best overall method due to its low-cost, ability to scale from single tube to 96-well plates, and high consistency in yield and sequencing performance.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has become a critical threat to public health worldwide. The use of antimicrobials in food and livestock agriculture, including the production of poultry, is thought to contribute to the dissemination of antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) and the genes and plasmids that confer the resistant phenotype (ARG). However, the relative contribution of each of these processes to the emergence of resistant pathogens in poultry production and their potential role in the transmission of resistant pathogens in human infections, requires a deeper understanding of the dynamics of ARB and ARG in food production and the factors involved in the increased risk of transmission.
Background With the recent legalization of cannabis in Canada, there is an urgent need to understand the effect of cannabis use in pregnancy. Our population-based study investigated the effects of prenatal cannabis use on maternal and newborn outcomes, and modification by infant sex. Methods The cohort included 1,280,447 singleton births from the British Columbia Perinatal Data Registry, the Better Outcomes Registry & Network Ontario, and the Perinatal Program Newfoundland Labrador from April 1st, 2012 to March 31st, 2019. Logistic regression determined the associations between prenatal cannabis use and low birth weight, small-for-gestational age, large-for-gestational age, spontaneous and medically indicated preterm birth, very preterm birth, stillbirth, major congenital anomalies, caesarean section, gestational diabetes and gestational hypertension. Models were adjusted for other substance use, socio-demographic and-economic characteristics, co-morbidities. Interaction terms were included to investigate modification by infant sex. Results The prevalence of cannabis use in our cohort was approximately 2%. Prenatal cannabis use is associated with increased risks of spontaneous and medically indicated preterm birth (1.80[1.68–1.93] and 1.94[1.77–2.12], respectively), very preterm birth (1.73[1.48–2.02]), low birth weight (1.90[1.79–2.03]), small-for-gestational age (1.21[1.16–1.27]) and large-for-gestational age (1.06[1.01–1.12]), any major congenital anomaly (1.71[1.49–1.97]), caesarean section (1.13[1.09–1.17]), and gestational diabetes (1.32[1.23–1.42]). No association was found for stillbirth or gestational hypertension. Only small-for-gestational age (p = 0.03) and spontaneous preterm birth (p = 0.04) showed evidence of modification by infant sex. Conclusions Prenatal cannabis use increases the likelihood of preterm birth, low birth weight, small-for-gestational age and major congenital anomalies with prenatally exposed female infants showing evidence of increased susceptibility. Additional measures are needed to inform the public and providers of the inherent risks of cannabis exposure in pregnancy.
Purpose: This research examines the implementation of the Icelandic Prevention Model (IPM) in Canada to identify opportunities revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic to re-design our social eco-system to promote wellbeing. This paper has two objectives: 1) to provide a conceptual review of research that applies the bioecological model to youth substance use prevention with a focus on the concepts of time and physical space use and 2) to describe a case study that examines the implementation of the IPM in Canada within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Method: Study data were collected through semi-structured qualitative interviews with key stakeholders involved in implementing the IPM. Results: Findings are organized within three over-arching themes derived from a thematic analysis: 1) Issues that influence time and space use patterns and youth substance use, 2) Family and community cohesion and influences on developmental context and time use and 3) Opportunities presented by the pandemic that can promote youth wellbeing. Conclusion: We apply the findings to research on the IPM as well as the pandemic to examine opportunities that may support primary prevention and overall youth wellbeing. We use the concepts of time and space as a foundation to discuss implications for policy and practice going forward.
Wicked Bodies is a toolkit for addressing eating disorder in LGBTQIA2S+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, Two-Spirit, and other sexual and gender minority) communities, an increasing prevalent issue that can have serious consequences on the health and well-being for LGBTQIA2S+ people. The toolkit consists of a series of short films and a discussion guidebook that provide a template that can be used for engaging with LGBTQIA2S+ youth through a lens of compassion and cultural humility. Wicked Bodies does this by presenting the lived experiences of a diverse range of LGBTQIA2S+ individuals navigating sociocultural pressures, gender expectations, and peer-based ideals around body weight and shape. Feedback from three screening events revealed that Wicked Bodies has the potential to be transformative as a health promotion initiative.
Objectives In this review we: (1) identify and describe nationally representative surveys with child maltreatment (CM) questions conducted by governments in low-income, middle-income and high-income countries and (2) describe procedures implemented to address respondents’ safety and minimise potential distress. Design We conducted a systematic search across eight databases from 1 January 2000 to 5 July 2021 to identify original studies with information about relevant surveys. Additional information about surveys was obtained through survey methods studies, survey reports, survey websites or by identifying full questionnaires (when available). Results Forty-six studies representing 139 surveys (98 youth and 41 adult) conducted by governments from 105 countries were identified. Surveys implemented a variety of procedures to maximise the safety and/or reduce distress for respondents including providing the option to withdraw from the survey and/or securing confidentiality and privacy for the respondent. In many surveys, further steps were taken such as providing information for support services, providing sensitivity training to survey administrators when interviews were conducted, among others. A minority of surveys took additional steps to empirically assess potential distress experienced by respondents. Conclusions Assessing risk and protective factors and developing effective interventions and policies are essential to reduce the burden of violence against children. While asking about experiences of CM requires careful consideration, procedures to maximise the safety and minimise potential distress to respondents have been successfully implemented globally, although practices differ across surveys. Further analysis is required to assist governments to implement the best possible safety protocols to protect respondents in future surveys.
Introduction: Sufficient sleep and good quality sleep are crucial aspects of children’s healthy development. While previous research has suggested associations between sleep and positive mental health, few studies have been conducted in Canadian children. Methods: This study used data from the 2019 Canadian Health Survey on Children and Youth. Parents of children aged 5 to 11 years (N = 16 170) reported on their children’s sleep habits and mental health. Descriptive statistics were used to calculate means and percentages for sleep and mental health indicators. Logistic regression was used to compare mental health outcomes by meeting sleep duration recommendations (9–11 hours of sleep vs. < 9 or > 11 hours of sleep), sleep quality (difficulties getting to sleep) and having enforced rules for bedtime. Results: Overall, 86.2% of children aged 5 to 11 years met sleep duration recommendations (9–11 hours of sleep), 90.0% had high sleep quality and 83.1% had enforced rules for bedtime. While 83.0% of children had high general mental health, mental health diagnoses were reported for 9.5% of children, and 15.8% of children required or received mental health care. High sleep quality was consistently associated with better mental health, enforced rules for bedtime were associated with some negative mental health outcomes and meeting sleep duration recommendations tended not to be associated with mental health outcomes. Conclusion: Sleep quality was strongly associated with mental health among children in this study. Future research should explore longitudinal associations between sleep and mental health in Canadian children.
Introduction. Un sommeil suffisant et un sommeil de bonne qualité sont des composantes cruciales du développement sain des enfants. Si des recherches antérieures laissent entrevoir des associations entre le sommeil et une bonne santé mentale, peu d’études ont été menées chez les enfants canadiens. Méthodologie. Cette étude se fonde sur les données de l’Enquête canadienne sur la santé des enfants et des jeunes de 2019. Des parents d’enfants âgés de 5 à 11 ans (N = 16 170) ont fait état des habitudes de sommeil et de la santé mentale de leurs enfants. Des statistiques descriptives ont servi à calculer les moyennes et les pourcentages des indicateurs du sommeil et de la santé mentale. Une régression logistique a été utilisée pour comparer les résultats en matière de santé mentale en fonction du respect des recommandations sur la durée du sommeil (9 à 11 heures de sommeil contre moins de 9 heures ou plus de 11 heures), la qualité du sommeil (difficulté à s’endormir) et l’application de règles relatives à l’heure du coucher. Résultats. Dans l’ensemble, 86,2 % des enfants de 5 à 11 ans respectaient les recommandations sur la durée du sommeil (9 à 11 heures de sommeil), 90,0 % avaient un sommeil de grande qualité et 83,1 % avaient des règles à respecter concernant l’heure du coucher. Si 83,0 % des enfants avaient un niveau élevé de santé mentale générale, des diagnostics en matière de santé mentale ont tout de même été déclarés pour 9,5 % des enfants, et 15,8 % ont eu besoin de soins de santé mentale ou en ont reçus. Un sommeil de grande qualité a été systématiquement associé à une meilleure santé mentale, l’application de règles relatives à l’heure du coucher a été associée à certains effets négatifs sur la santé mentale et le respect des recommandations sur la durée du sommeil ne semble pas avoir d’incidence sur la santé mentale. Conclusion. Cette étude révèle une forte association entre la qualité du sommeil et la santé mentale chez les enfants. Les recherches futures devraient se pencher sur les associations longitudinales entre le sommeil et la santé mentale des enfants canadiens.
From 2016–2019, dry bulb onions were the suspected cause of three multistate outbreaks in the United States. We investigated a large multistate outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections that caused illnesses in both the United States and Canada in 2020. Epidemiologic, laboratory and traceback investigations were conducted to determine the source of the infections, and data were shared among U.S. and Canadian public health officials. We identified 1127 U.S. illnesses from 48 states with illness onset dates ranging from 19 June to 11 September 2020. Sixty-six per cent of ill people reported consuming red onions in the week before illness onset. Thirty-five illness sub-clusters were identified during the investigation and seventy-four per cent of sub-clusters served red onions to customers during the exposure period. Traceback for the source of onions in illness sub-clusters identified a common onion grower in Bakersfield, CA as the source of red onions, and onions were recalled at this time. Although other strains of Salmonella Newport were identified in environmental samples collected at the Bakersfield, CA grower, extensive environmental and product testing did not yield the outbreak strain. This was the third largest U.S. foodborne Salmonella outbreak in the last 30 years. It is the first U.S. multistate outbreak with a confirmed link to dry bulb onions, and it was nearly 10-fold larger than prior outbreaks with a suspected link to onions. This outbreak is notable for its size and scope, as well as the international data sharing that led to implication of red onions as the primary cause of the outbreak. Although an environmental assessment at the grower identified several factors that likely contributed to the outbreak, no main reason was identified. The expedient identification of the outbreak vehicle and response of multiple public health agencies allowed for recall and removal of product from the marketplace, and rapid messaging to both the public and industry on actions to protect consumers; these features contributed to a decrease in cases and expeditious conclusion of the outbreak.
The study aimed to determine the relative contribution of cattle to the burden of illness in a model agroecosystem with high rates of human campylobacteriosis (≥ 115 cases/100 K), and high densities of cattle, including large numbers of cattle housed in confined feeding operations (i.e., in southwestern Alberta, Canada). To accomplish this, a large-scale molecular epidemiological analysis of Campylobacter jejuni circulating within the study location was completed. In excess of 8000 isolates of C. jejuni from people (n = 2548 isolates), chickens (n = 1849 isolates), cattle (n = 2921 isolates), and water (n = 771 isolates) were subtyped. In contrast to previous studies, the source attribution estimates of clinical cases attributable to cattle vastly exceeded those attributed to chicken (i.e., three- to six-fold). Moreover, cattle were often colonized by C. jejuni (51%) and shed the bacterium in their feces. A large proportion of study isolates were found in subtypes primarily associated with cattle (46%), including subtypes infecting people and those associated with chickens (19%). The implication of cattle as a primary amplifying reservoir of C. jejuni subtypes in circulation in the study location is supported by the strong cattle association with subtypes that were found in chickens and in people, a lack of evidence indicating the foodborne transmission of C. jejuni from beef and dairy, and the large number of cattle and the substantial quantities of untreated manure containing C. jejuni cells. Importantly, the evidence implicated cattle as a source of C. jejuni which was infecting people through a transmission pathway from cattle to people via the consumption of chicken. This has implications for reducing the burden of campylobacteriosis in the study location and elsewhere.
Background: Data on meeting the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for adults (24-H Guidelines) and associations with health indicators by body mass index (BMI) class are needed to support public health surveillance. The aim of this study was to describe the proportion of Canadian adults meeting individual and various combinations of the 24-H Guidelines by BMI class and their association with health indicators. Data and methods: Data from the cross-sectional Canadian Health Measures Survey cycles 1 to 4 (2007 to 2015, n = 10,515 adults aged 18 to 79 years) were used. Daily time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and sedentary behaviour were assessed using accelerometry. Sleep duration, recreational screen time, chronic conditions, sociodemographic characteristics, and general and mental health were self-reported. The BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure and aerobic fitness were directly measured. Respondents were classified as meeting the 24-H Guidelines when: • the MVPA was 150 minutes per week or more; • sedentary time was nine hours or less per day; • recreational screen time was three hours or less per day; • sleep duration was seven to nine hours per day for individuals aged 18 to 64 years or seven to eight hours per day for individuals aged 65 years and older. Results: Significantly fewer adults with overweight (6.1%) or class I (4.3%) and class II or III (3.9%) obesity met all three 24-H Guidelines compared with those with normal weight (9.5%). Meeting all three or two recommendations of the 24-H Guidelines was generally associated with a lower waist circumference, higher aerobic physical fitness and self-perceived general health regardless of BMI class. Interpretation: Canadian adults living with overweight and obesity are less likely to meet the 24-H Guidelines. Most of the benefits associated with meeting the 24-H Guidelines are observed regardless of BMI status.
The COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying public health measures have exacerbated many risk factors for depression in older adulthood. The objectives of the current study are: (1) to determine the risk of incident and recurrent depression during the COVID-19 pandemic among those with, or without, a history of depression; and (2) to identify factors that were predictive of depression in these two groups. The study population included 22,622 participants of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging who provided data at baseline (2011–2015), follow-up (2015–2018), and twice during the pandemic (April–May 2020, September–December 2020). The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D-10) was used to classify individuals with depression. Logistic regression was used to estimate the odds of depression during COVID across a series of risk factors. Individuals with a history of depression had four times the risk of depression during the pandemic when compared to those without a history of depression, even after controlling for relevant covariates. Other factors associated with depression during the pandemic include being female, having fewer savings, and experiencing COVID-19 related stressors, such as health stressors, difficulties accessing resources, and family conflict. Clinicians working with older adults should consider interventions to support high-risk groups, such as those with recurrent depression.
Physical activity levels remain significantly low in the adult population and especially on university campuses. One potential strategy to counter low physical activity levels and poor mental health on university campuses is Physical Activity Counselling (PAC), which aims to enhance one’s motivation for physical activity. The purpose of this mixed method study was to describe the implementation, acceptability, and impact of an on-campus PAC program, on both the clients and counsellors. Inactive university students and faculty/staff were recruited to receive individualized PAC. Quantitative data was collected from clients using online validated questionnaires. Qualitative data was collected from counsellors using semi-structured interviews. Effect sizes (d) were conducted for quantitative data whereas all qualitative data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Increases in physical activity and mental health, as well as emotional, social, and psychological well-being were found in clients from baseline to end-point. Changes in physical activity were positively associated with changes in mental health and social well-being. Counsellors indicated that participating in the PAC program provided them with the opportunity to practice key behaviour change techniques which led to an increased confidence in delivering PAC. This study provides important information related to the implementation of a PAC on-campus program, and results support the positive impact on both clients and counsellors. Other institutions are encouraged to offer a PAC course and replicate this program to increase physical activity levels and improve mental health among university students and faculty/staff.
Subjective walkability is a measure of the perceived friendliness of walking in an area. Though subjective walkability is less commonly assessed than objective measurements, the latter often fail to reflect the experience of walking. This study aims to better understand subjective walkability and how it varies between travel and leisure walking by investigating its relationship with the built environment and land-use characteristics. Data is collected from 848 street segments in Montreal, Canada, using the MAPS-mini audit tool, external measurements including Walkscore as well as synthetic subjective walkability scores. Mixed effect multilevel models are then generated using travel and leisure subjective walkability scores as dependent variables and built environment features as independent variables. Statistically significant positive predictors of perceived walkability differ between walking for travel and walking for leisure. Walkscore is found to have a weak but significant effect on perceived walkability for travel but no effect at all for leisure. Based on this research, a multi-scalar approach both at the street and neighborhood level making use of a combination of objective and subjective walkability measures should be employed to study predictors of walking behavior. Lastly, distinctions of walking behaviors based on trip purpose should be integrated in future research.
Background The co-presentation of severe obesity (SO) and global developmental delay (GDD) in Canadian preschool children has not been examined. However, SO and GDD may require syndromic diagnoses and unique management considerations. Objectives To determine (1) minimum incidence; (2) age of onset and risk factors; and (3) health care utilization for co-presenting SO and GDD. Methods Through the Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program (CPSP), a monthly form was distributed to participants from February 2018 to January 2020 asking for reports of new cases of SO and GDD among children ≤5 years of age. We performed descriptive statistics for quantitative questions and qualitative content analysis for open-ended questions. Results Forty-seven cases (64% male; 51% white; mean age: 3.5 ± 1.2 years) were included. Age of first weight concern was 2.5 ± 1.3 years and age of GDD diagnosis was 2.7 ± 1.4 years. Minimum incidence of SO and GDD was 3.3 cases per 100,000 for ≤5 years of age per year. Identified problems included school and/or behavioural problems (n = 17; 36%), snoring (n = 14; 30%), and asthma/recurrent wheeze (n = 10; 21%). Mothers of 32% of cases (n = 15) had obesity and 21% of cases (n = 10) received neonatal intensive care. Microarray was ordered for 57% (n = 27) of children. A variety of clinicians and services were accessed. As reported by CPSP participants, challenges faced by families and health service access were barriers to care. Conclusion Children with SO and GDD have multiple comorbidities, and require early identification and referral to appropriate services. These cases may also benefit from additional testing to rule out known genetic obesity syndromes.
Evidence about how the pandemic affected household violence in Canada is mixed, but inarguably, the risk factors increased. This study used data from the 2020 Canadian Perspective Survey Series and the 2020 and 2021 Surveys of COVID-19 and Mental Health to examine the following: changes in the prevalence of concern about violence in individuals’ own homes during the pandemic; the characteristics of those who expressed concern; and the prevalence of concerns for specific household members. Among Canadians, the prevalence of concern about violence in individuals’ own homes decreased significantly between July and Fall 2020 (5.8% to 4.2%). Among women, the characteristics that were significantly associated with higher adjusted odds of concern about household violence included larger household size and lower household income. Lower education among women was associated with lower adjusted odds of concern. The associations with higher adjusted odds of concern among men included: being an immigrant, larger household size, and lower household income. From Fall 2020 to Spring 2021, the prevalence of concerns for oneself and for a child/children increased (1.7% to 2.5% and 1.0% to 2.5%, respectively), but concern for other adults in the household decreased (1.9% to 1.2%). Ongoing surveillance is needed to understand vulnerable populations’ exposure to household violence and to inform policies and programs.
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393 members
Serge Olivier Kotchi
  • National Microbiology Laboratory
Wasfi Rania
  • National Microbiology Laboratory
Christian Bellehumeur
  • Centre for Biosecurity
Ping Yan
  • Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Branch
1015 Arlington Street, Ottawa, Manitoba, Canada