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George C. Ebers

George Cornell Ebers, neurologist, researcher (born 24 July 1946 in Budapest, Hungary). Ebers has published extensively with more than 300 publications in peer-reviewed journals, three books, 25 book chapters, and multiple editorials to his name. He has contributed significant medical research into multiple sclerosis (MS). A former professor at Western University and the University of Oxford, Ebers was awarded the John Dystel Prize for Multiple Sclerosis Research.

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Pandemics in Canada

A pandemic is an outbreak of an infectious disease that affects a large proportion of the population in multiple countries or worldwide. Human populations have been affected by pandemics since ancient times. These include widespread outbreaks of plague, cholera, influenza and, more recently, HIV/AIDS, SARS and COVID-19. In order to slow or stop the spread of disease, governments implement public health measures that include testing, isolation and quarantine. In Canada, public health agencies at the federal, provincial and municipal levels play an important role in monitoring disease, advising governments and communicating to the public.

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COVID-19 Pandemic in Canada

COVID-19 is a severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by a new type of coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that emerged in 2019. The virus caused the first cases in China and then quickly spread around the world. As of early March 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 434 million confirmed cases and 5.9 million deaths globally, including over 3.2 million cases and 36,000 deaths in Canada. It is one of the deadliest pandemics in world history and among the most disruptive and transformative on many levels, especially economically and socially.

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Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that impacts the body’s central nervous system. As of September 2020 an estimated 2.8 million people are living with MS worldwide. Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world with over 90,000 Canadians living with the disease. There is no known cure for MS, but treatments can help address symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

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Avian Influenza in Canada

Avian influenza, commonly known as “bird flu”, is a contagious viral disease that can affect several species of birds used in food production (e.g., chickens, turkeys), as well as pet birds, wild birds and some mammals (see Poultry Farming). The viruses responsible for the disease can be classified into two categories: high pathogenicity or low pathogenicity. The highly pathogenic H5N1 subtype of the avian influenza virus is transmissible to humans. In Canada, cases of avian influenza must be reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

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Quarantine Act

Canada adopted quarantine legislation in 1872, five years after Confederation. It was replaced by the current Quarantine Act, which was passed by the Parliament of Canada and received royal assent in 2005. The act gives sweeping powers to the federal health minister to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases. These powers can include health screenings, the creation of quarantine facilities and mandatory isolation orders. The Quarantine Act was introduced in the wake of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) crisis of 2003. It was invoked in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Metchosin

Metchosin, British Columbia, incorporated as a district municipality in 1984, population 4,708 (2016 census), 4,803 (2011 census). The District of Metchosin is located on Vancouver Island. It overlooks the Juan de Fuca Strait. Metchosin is part of the Greater Victoria area. From the late 1800s to 1958, a quarantine station operated at William Head in Metchosin. Many immigrants arriving to Canada by ship were quarantined at William Head before being allowed to enter the country. This was done in an effort to prevent the spread of infectious diseases common on overcrowded ships. In addition, from 1924 to 1956, there was a leper colony on nearby Bentinck Island.

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Partridge Island

Partridge Island is located in the Bay of Fundy, about 1 km from the shoreline and the city of Saint John, New Brunswick. The island was set aside as a quarantine station in 1785 and operated as such between 1830 and 1941. Many immigrants arriving to Canada by ship, including thousands of  Irish in 1847, were isolated on the island before being allowed to enter the country. This was done in an effort to prevent the spread of infectious diseases common on overcrowded vessels. In 1974, the Partridge Island quarantine station was designated a national historic site. Other important events are associated with the island, including the installation of the world’s first steam-operated fog alarm in 1859 (see also Robert Foulis).

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Krever Inquiry

The Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada, also known as the Krever Inquiry, was a public investigation of the Canadian blood system, which had been contaminated with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus during the 1980s. (See also Aids.) In 1993, a public inquiry into the Canadian blood system was established and Justice Horace Krever was named commissioner. The infection of thousands of Canadians with (HIV) and hepatitis C is Canada's worst- ever preventable public health disaster. It has also become one of its most prolonged legal sagas, featuring a high-profile public inquiry, almost $10 billion in legal claims and a criminal investigation.

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Potato Wart Disease

Potato wart disease, also called potato canker, is a fungal disease of potato sprouts, eyes and stolons. The disease is caused by the soil-borne fungus, Synchytrium endobioticum. Potato wart disease poses no danger to human health or food safety, but it can impact local economies as the disease can reduce yield and effect economic regulations, such as potato exports. (See also Agricultural Economics.)

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SARS in Canada

Canada experienced an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. Most of the infections originated in Toronto hospitals. The outbreak led to the quarantine of thousands, killed 44 people and took an economic toll on Toronto. It also exposed the country’s ill-prepared health-care system. Confusion around SARS fuelled an uptick in anti-Asian and anti-immigrant sentiment.

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Smallpox in Canada

Smallpox is an infectious disease caused by the variola virus. The disease arrived in what is now Canada with French settlers in the early 17th century. Indigenous people had no immunity to smallpox, resulting in devastating infection and death rates. In 1768, arm-to-arm inoculation became more widely practised in North America. By 1800, advances in vaccination helped control the spread of smallpox. Public health efforts also reduced rates of infection. In the 20th century, Canadian scientists helped the World Health Organization eradicate smallpox. Eradication was achieved in 1979, but virus stocks still exist for research and safety reasons.

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Bonnie Henry

Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer of British Columbia (2018 to present), epidemiologist, physician (born 1965 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island). Dr. Bonnie Henry is best known for leading British Columbia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also worked to eradicate polio and to contain Ebola and SARS. Henry is a family care physician and a specialist in preventative medicine. She is the first woman to serve as BC’s provincial health officer.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.