Category Archives: Ontario

British Columbia / Ontario | New drug trial puts possible stroke treatment in the hands of paramedics

Paramedics in Toronto, Vancouver, Richmond and the Region of Peel in suburban Toronto will soon administer a stroke drug, called NA-1, to eligible stroke victims as part of a new 558-patient randomized control trial.

The trial will begin in Toronto on March 16 and expand to the other cities thereafter.

NA-1 has already been shown to reduce damage caused by stroke and to improve brain function for patients undergoing brain surgery. The study, known as FRONTIER, will compare outcomes when paramedics give either NA-1 or placebo to patients while transporting patients to the closest stroke centre. Once in hospital, patients will receive standard care for strokes.

Canadians who suffer a stroke and receive emergency services support from Peel Regional Paramedic Services, BC Emergency Health Services or Toronto Paramedic Services will be enrolled in the trial, if they meet eligibility criteria. The Toronto, Vancouver and Region of Peel stroke centres participating in FRONTIER are:

Participant’s consent is required before a product is delivered in most clinical trials. However, given the immediate nature of emergency stroke care, the consent process has been deferred by Health Canada and the Research Ethics Boards at the centres participating in this trial. Participants and families will be informed and asked for consent to continue in the study once the medical emergency has stabilized.

Stroke is the most significant cause of neurological disability and death worldwide. It affects 62,000 Canadians and kills more than 11,000 annually.

The FRONTIER trial is supported by a Multi-Investigator Research Initiative grant from the Brain Canada Foundation and sponsored by NoNO Inc.

To learn more, please visit www.frontiertrial.ca or contact the Rescu at 1-888-707-3015. Additional information on the trial is available at https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02315443.

Ontario | Hamilton Public Health Services investigating a case of Measles

Hamilton Public Health Services is investigating a confirmed case of measles in a Hamilton adult. This person most likely caught measles while travelling, however, there may have been exposures in public settings in Hamilton. Public Health Services is currently working to identify individuals who may require follow up.

Persons who have not had 2 doses of a measles vaccine, such as MMR or MMRV, or those who have not had measles infection in the past are at higher risk.

Persons who visited any of the following public locations may have been exposed to measles:

Sunday, March 8

  • Sobeys Meadowlands, 977 Golf Links Rd, Ancaster – 9:00am to 12:00pm
  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 1000 Golf Links Rd, Ancaster – 8:00pm to 10:10pm

Monday, March 9

  • Popeye’s Chicken, 6-550 Fennell Ave E, Hamilton – 4:00pm to 6:15pm

Tuesday, March 10

  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 1000 Golf Links Rd, Ancaster – 1:30pm to 3:45pm

Wednesday, March 11

  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 133 King St. W., Dundas – 11:35am to 1:40pm

If you were at these locations during the specified time and you have not had 2 doses of a measles vaccine or have not had (red) measles infection in the past, please see the website for further information at www.hamilton.caIf you have additional questions, please contact Hamilton Public Health Services at 905-546-2489.

“Measles is highly contagious to susceptible people from the beginning of the illness until four days after the rash first appears,” said Dr. Jessica Hopkins, Associate Medical Officer of Health for Hamilton. “Immunization is the best protection and Hamilton Public Health Services encourages all residents keep their immunizations up to date.”

Measles starts with cough, runny nose, red, watery eyes, and fever, and after about four days a rash begins on the face and moves down the body. Measles spreads easily to persons who are not immune. Infants under one year of age, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems can get very ill with measles. Complications of measles can include middle ear infections, pneumonia, and inflammation of the brain.

If you think you may have measles and need to see a doctor, you must call ahead to the doctor’s office, walk-in clinic, or emergency department. This will allow health care staff to give you a mask to wear when you arrive and take you straight to a room in which you can be isolated to prevent giving measles to other people.

 

Ontario | City of Toronto continues to address frozen pipes and urges residents to help each other

The City of Toronto is continuing to respond to an unprecedented number of “no water” calls due to frozen drinking water pipes as a result of the prolonged, extreme cold weather.

The City is urging residents to help neighbours without water until crews can visit the home to investigate the issue. If, during the visit, the pipes are found to be frozen outside, crews will attempt to establish a temporary water supply to the neighbour, if consent is provided.

“Toronto Water is working as quickly as possible to get to each home,” said Lou Di Gironimo, General Manager, Toronto Water. “We have mobilized all available crews, along with staff from other areas and contractors, to enhance emergency response.”

Since the cold weather first hit on February 14, the City has received more than 2,600 “no water” calls – 10 times the number received in a typical year. This number continues to grow by approximately 110 to 130 new “no water” calls each day.

In the majority of cases, investigation has determined that the pipes are frozen within the home. Residents are encouraged to visit toronto.ca/frozenpipes for tips on how to thaw frozen pipes.

If these steps do not work, residents should call 311 and someone from the City’s no water “SWAT” team will contact them within 24 hours to schedule a site visit. Due to current call volumes, visits are being booked five days from today.

Once crews arrive, if the pipes are frozen outside and they have the neighbour’s consent, they will attempt to establish a temporary water supply connection (called a highline) by attaching a hose between the two homes. Neighbours will not be charged for any additional water use during this period.

If a highline is not possible, either for mechanical reasons or the neighbour would prefer not to install a connection, the property will be put on the list to have the outside water service pipe thawed.

To date, there are 223 homes on highline and another 171 on the list to be thawed. Thawing is an extensive process that involves excavating six feet into frozen ground to expose the pipe and apply heat. This can take anywhere from three to eight hours, as each property is different. As a result, it can take seven to 10 days for crews to visit each home to thaw the pipe.

“We understand this is a difficult time for many. We thank everyone who is making an effort to support their neighbour and for their continued patience as we work to restore water to affected homes in Toronto,” said Di Gironimo.

To learn more about how to prevent and thaw frozen pipes and what the City is doing to address the issue, visit toronto.ca/frozenpipes

Ontario | City of Hamilton continues to manage hundreds of calls about frozen water pipes

Hamilton Water is continuing to manage hundreds of calls from residents across the city who have no water due to frozen water pipes. The milder weather we’re experiencing this week has provided no reprieve from the occurrence of frozen water lines. The City has now received over 800 calls related to frozen water services since February 14th.

In an effort to streamline the customer service process and reduce call wait times, all citizen reports of frozen water service and requests for potable water delivery are being directed to hwemergency@hamilton.ca This central email address will provide a single point of contact where requests can be prioritized and actioned efficiently. Residents may still call 546-CITY (2489) or Hamilton Water’s Customer Service line at 905-546-4426 but may experience longer wait periods to speak with a representative. Both call centres have added extra staff to help manage the high volume of calls coming in on this issue.

“Providing reliable and efficient service to affected residents is the top priority for Hamilton Water,” said Dan McKinnon, Director of Hamilton Water. “We thank residents for their patience and want you to know that we remain solely committed to this issue until every affected water service is thawed.”

The current response time for Hamilton Water to thaw a service is about five to seven days. Staff are continuing to retain additional staff and external contractors to assist with the response efforts.

Hamilton Water is now also offering their services to residents as a first response rather than requiring a homeowner to hire a plumber first. This may result in longer wait times but some residents have expressed that they are more comfortable working directly with City staff. If the frozen water service is found to be on private property the City will then bill the homeowner.

The City is making arrangements to open some recreation centres to provide showering facilities for affected residents. More details will be provided once the locations are finalized.

The City also encourages residents to be a good neighbour and check in on elderly or vulnerable people who may require extra support before the City is able to respond to the home.

Read more tips for frozen pipes

 

Ontario | Public health advisory issued after person with measles attended ‘Acquire The Fire’ event at Queensway Cathedral in Toronto

The Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robin Williams, is issuing this important advisory to individuals who attended the “Acquire the Fire” event, a mass gathering of youth that was held in Toronto at Queensway Cathedral on February 6 and 7, 2015.  A large number of youth from all over Ontario, as well as performers, volunteers and speakers attended this event: 

As a result of the ongoing investigation into measles cases in this province, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care was advised today of a person with a newly-confirmed case of measles who had attended this event during the measles infectious period.

Fortunately, most adolescents in Ontario are appropriately immunized with two doses of measles vaccine, and for most, this is highly effective at preventing measles. However, individuals who attended this event and are born after 1970 are requested to review their immunization status to ensure they are protected against measles. Blood testing to check measles immunity is not required or recommended.

If they have not been adequately immunized, they are requested to immediately self-isolate by staying at home and contact their local public health unit for important additional guidance.  Or they can call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000/TTY: 1-866-797-0007. They should not attend any public gatherings and should not attend school, work, daycare, or any post-secondary institutions until they are cleared of measles risk.

Symptoms of measles include at least one of: fever, cough, runny nose, inflammation of the eyes or rash. If individuals who attended this event should develop these symptoms over the next two weeks, they are advised to contact their primary care provider by phone and also the local public health unit. Unimmunized event attenders who develop these signs and symptoms must not present for care to their health care provider or emergency department without speaking by phone first to alert health care providers to their measles risk.

The province of Ontario is working closely with Public Health Ontario, the health care system and local public health officials to investigate and respond to this development.

Ontario | Ottawa – Public health officials issue Frostbite Warning

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has issued a Frostbite Warning to ensure people take appropriate precautions before going outside and to encourage homeless people to seek indoor shelter from the cold. This warning is in effect from Thursday, February 12, 2015 until further notice.

A Frostbite Warning is issued when a wind chill of -35 or colder is forecast for the Ottawa area.  With a wind chill of -35 or colder, exposed skin can freeze in less than ten minutes.  There is also an increased risk of hypothermia for people who stay outside for long periods of time without adequate protection. Overexposure can result in severe injury and even death.  OPH recommends that you wear several layers of clothing to keep warm and make sure that the outer layer protects you from wind and moisture.

Frostbite results when the skin and underlying tissues freeze.  Skin is white and waxy and feels hard to the touch.  Frostbite is a serious condition that can require amputation.  Medical attention is advised.  Frostnip is a mild form of frostbite where only the skin freezes. Both frostbite and frostnip can be treated by gradually warning skin using body heat or warm water.  Never rub or massage affected areas.

Children, the elderly, people with poor circulation and the homeless are particularly vulnerable to cold weather.  There are many services available to help the homeless:

  • Emergency sleeping spaces in Ottawa shelters,
  • Street outreach services to encourage homeless people to come in from the cold, and
  • Provision of emergency transportation and other services by the Salvation Army.

To seek assistance for a homeless person, concerned citizens are encouraged to call: 3-1-1.  Calls are answered by the City of Ottawa Call Centre on a priority basis and referrals are made to the appropriate services.

For more information on frostbite, hypothermia and cold weather precautions visit ottawapublichealth.ca or call 613-580-6744 (TTY: 613-580-9656).

Look for our live extreme weather updates on Twitter @OttawaHealth. You can also connect with OPH on FacebookTumblr, and Pinterest.

Ontario | Toronto – Extreme Cold Weather Alert – seek shelter, check on loved ones

Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, has issued an Extreme Cold Weather Alert today for Toronto that will be in effect until further notice.

Exposure to cold weather can be harmful to your health. Hypothermia occurs when the body’s core temperature drops below 35°C and can have severe consequences, including organ failure and death. Frostnip and frostbite can also occur in cold weather when skin freezes.

During extreme cold weather, residents are encouraged to call or visit vulnerable friends, neighbours and family to ensure they are not experiencing any difficulties related to the weather. Those most at risk of cold-related illness are people who work outdoors, people with a pre-existing heart conditions or respiratory illness, those taking certain medications, infants and young children, and those who are homeless. People with heart problems can experience worsening of their condition up to several days after cold weather occurs.

This alert triggers cold weather services for homeless people, including two 24-hour drop-ins, additional shelter beds, TTC tokens for people to get to shelter, increased street outreach, and a direction to shelters to relax any service restrictions in place.

During an Extreme Cold Weather Alert, members of the public are encouraged to take the following precautions:
• Dress in layers, making sure your outer layer is windproof, and cover exposed skin.
• Wear a hat, warm mittens or gloves, and warm boots.
• Stay dry. Your risk of hypothermia is much greater if you are wet.
• Choose wool or synthetic fabrics for your clothes instead of cotton, because cotton stops keeping you warm once it gets wet.
• Seek shelter if you normally spend long periods outside. Depending on the wind chill, exposed skin can freeze in minutes.
• Avoid alcohol as it increases blood flow. You may feel warm even though you are losing body heat.
• Consider rescheduling outdoor activities, or limiting time outdoors, especially if it’s windy.
• Heat your home to at least 21ºC if babies or elderly people are present.

If you see someone on the street who needs outreach assistance – which may include a shelter bed due to the cold temperatures – call 311. For medical emergencies, call 911.

More information and tips for staying warm during extremely cold weather are available at toronto.ca/health.

Ontario | Lambton County – Cold weather alert issued

Lambton’s Medical Officer of Health has issued a COLD WEATHER ALERT for Lambton County based on the latest forecast from Environment Canada that predicts the temperature to drop to -15°C on Thursday afternoon.

The alert, the fifth of the season, will remain in effect over the weekend until Monday. Nighttime lows hovering around -20°C are expected over the weekend. The Medical Officer of Health will not issue a Cold Weather Alert termination.

Lambton Public Health advises local agencies that provide shelter and assistance to homeless people to prepare for an increase in demand during the Cold Weather Alert.

All residents should take precautions during a Cold Weather Alert by dressing in layers, shielding exposed areas from the wind such as head, neck and face, and limiting time spent outdoors.

Lambton’s Medical Officer of Health issues a Cold Weather Alert when one or more of the following is met:

  • Daily, low temperature is predicted to be -15°C or below, without a wind chill value.
  • Environment Canada issues a wind chill warning for Lambton County.
  • Extreme weather conditions, such as a blizzard or ice storm, are predicted.

Overexposure to cold can be hazardous, even life-threatening. Hypothermia, which can strike in any season, occurs when the body temperature drops below the normal range between 36.1°C and 37.8°C (97°F-100°F). Symptoms may include pale skin, lethargy, confusion, excessive shivering and hallucinations.

If someone is suffering from hypothermia:
• Seek immediate medical attention.
• Move person to a warm area, if possible; dress in warm clothing.
• Offer warm water, juice or milk.
Do not offer alcohol or hot drinks.

Frostbite can occur in skin that is overexposed to cold temperatures. Symptoms of frostbite include skin turning red, blue, or a grey/white colour. Individuals may also experience pain, numbness and stiffness, especially in fingers, toes, ears and nose.

If you suspect frostbite:
• Warm the skin next to the affected area or immerse in warm water. Do not use hot water.
• Do not rub the affected area.
• Seek immediate medical help.
• Re-warming may take up to 60 minutes.

Avoid hypothermia or frostbite:
• Check the weather forecast.
• Dress warmly. Wear several layers of warm, loose-fitting clothes.
• Protect your head and neck with a hat, scarf or hood: 30% of body heat escapes through the head.
• Protect your face with a mask.
• Wear wool socks and well-fitted boots that cover the ankles.
• Wear mittens. They protect hands better than gloves.
• Outermost layer of clothing should protect you from the wind.
• Stay dry. Wet clothing chills the body. Remove outer layers or open your coat if sweating.
• Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
• Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
• Limit outdoor activity.
• Know your limits. Children, seniors and those with circulation problems are more susceptible to cold.

For more information on severe cold weather, visit www.lambtonhealth.on.ca.

Ontario | Public health officials urge vaccination against measles with eight cases confirmed in the province

Today Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, and Dr. Robin Williams, Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, issued the following statement on the measles cases in Ontario:

“In the last two weeks, eight cases of measles have been confirmed in Ontario. So far, there are no known common sources of exposure and currently they are not known to be linked to the cases in the United States.

While the risk to the general public is low, measles is highly contagious. It is important for people to be fully immunized against this serious disease; it’s the best way to prevent measles and its spread. We are urging Ontarians to ensure all their immunizations for measles and those of their children are up-to-date, not only to protect them from this disease, but those around them. Parents who do not get their kids immunized are putting other children at risk.

Adults born in 1970 or later require two doses for optimal protection, depending on their age and level of risk. Individuals born before 1970 are generally presumed to be immune from measles. Currently, it is recommended that children should have the first dose at 12 months and a second dose when they are four to six years old, preferably before they start school.

The science is clear and there is indisputable evidence that the measles vaccine is both safe and effective. There is overwhelming evidence and consensus among health professionals in support of vaccinations. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that they and their loved ones are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases like measles.

Immunization is important as measles is a highly contagious viral infection that is spread through the air from person to person through coughing or sneezing. It can be spread by someone who does not appear ill.  All Ontarians are eligible for measles vaccination, according to the Publicly Funded Immunization Schedules in Ontario.

We will continue to work closely with Public Health Ontario and local public health units to monitor measles cases in the province. For further information about measles and measles immunization, or if you are not sure about your immunization status and are looking to get vaccinated, contact your health care provider or call your local public health unit.

If you plan to travel abroad, consult your health care provider in advance of travel so you and those travelling with you–especially young children–have sufficient time to become immunized and protected.

If you think that you or a family member has measles, contact your health care provider immediately.  Be sure to call ahead to let them know that you are coming and that you suspect that you may have measles so that appropriate precautions can be taken.”

Ontario | Winter sightings of coyotes are normal in parts of Toronto

Toronto residents who live near ravines and forests – typical coyote habitat – should expect an increase in coyote sightings during winter months.

Coyotes have become a natural part of the urban landscape in Toronto and are an important part of the ecosystem as they control rodent and rabbit populations. They thrive in urban areas because of the abundance of food and shelter available to them.

Residents can expect to see coyotes more often in winter for these reasons:
• It is easier to spot coyotes in parks and ravines in the winter because they are not hidden by foliage.
• Coyotes are wary by nature and are more comfortable roaming in residential neighbourhoods when fewer people are outside.
• The months of January and February are mating season for coyotes. As coyotes are more active during this time, they become more visible.

Coyotes are active day and night, but prefer to hunt after dusk or before dawn. Coyotes are normally shy, but out of natural curiosity they may watch or follow humans. Feeding them makes the animals less fearful of humans.

Residents are advised to follow these steps to minimize negative encounters with coyotes:
• Avoid feeding coyotes or other wild animals. Feeding wild animals, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is detrimental and can create problems for the neighbourhood.
• Avoid feeding domestic pets outdoors.
• Ensure that all household garbage is inaccessible to animals.
• Place garbage at the curb on the morning of the scheduled pickup, rather than the night before.
• Always supervise pets – keep dogs on a leash and keep cats indoors or supervised when outside.
• Remove dense brush and weeds around property to minimize hiding spots for coyotes.
• If you encounter a coyote, wave your arms aggressively, make loud noises and throw objects in its direction to scare it away. These actions teach coyotes to be afraid of humans and will help to minimize conflicts. If those kinds of actions do not scare aware a coyote, slowly back away from the coyote – avoid turning your back or running away. Like dogs, coyotes may give chase if you run.

For more information or to report a coyote sighting, residents can visit toronto.ca/coyote or call 311.