February 2020 Board Meeting
Main Page Content
- Call to Order
- Agenda Approval
- Announcement of Conflict of Interest
- BOARD ELECTIONS
- Presentations (W. Ahmed)
- Syphilis in Windsor Essex County
- Approval of Minutes
- Regular Board Meeting: January 16, 2020
- Consent Agenda
- INFORMATION REPORTS
- Syphilis in Windsor and Essex County (Appendices) (W. Ahmed)
- The WECHU Taking Action on Climate Change (K. McBeth)
- Media Recap
- RECOMMENDTION REPORTS
- Seasonal Housing Compliance Inspections – Fee for Service Program Introduction (K. McBeth)
- INFORMATION REPORTS
- Business Arising – None
- Board Correspondence – Circulated
- New Business
- Climate Change and Health Vulnerability Report (W. Ahmed)
- Public Health Modernization Consultation (T. Marentette)
- Other Board of Health Resolutions/Letters
- Peterborough Public Health – Letter to Hon. Caroline Mulroney and Hon. Christine Elliott – Off Road Vehicle and Bills 107 and 132 – For Support
- Letter from Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Ministry of Health to Nicole Dupuis, WECHU – The Children Count Pilot Study Program – For Information
- Committee of the Whole (Closed Session in accordance with Section 239 of the Municipal Act)
- Next Meeting: At the Call of the Chair or March 19, 2020 – Essex
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Lora Piccinin, Manager of Infectious Disease Prevention/Talaya Harrold, PHN/HPS
February 20, 2020
Syphilis in Windsor and Essex County
Sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBI) account for the largest burden of all Diseases of Public Health Significance (DOPHS) in Windsor and Essex County (WEC), representing 71% of all reported cases. According to the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA), health care providers have a duty to report cases of STBBI’s to public health, including HIV/AIDS, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and Syphilis.
Local data shows that Syphilis is a significant concern. Syphilis is transmitted through oral, genital, and anal sex with an infected person. Syphilis can also be passed on to an unborn child, sometimes causing birth defects or death. Syphilis is normally diagnosed through a blood test and is treated with penicillin or other antibiotics. If left untreated, syphilis can progress through four stages of infection, with symptoms ranging from sores and rash to multi-organ system damage. Before 2001 syphilis cases in Ontario were rare, but rates have been on the rise. As noted in the Summary of Syphilis in Windsor and Essex County report, from 2017 to 2019, there has been a 134% increase in the crude incident rate of local Syphilis cases. During this same period, there was a 25.6% provincial increase, although the overall rate in Ontario remains higher than in WEC.
Infection of the brain and spinal cord, known as Neurosyphilis, has also been found to be of significant concern as noted in the Summary of Neurosyphilis in Windsor and Essex County report. This complication of Syphilis can result in symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, dementia, a change in personality, and difficulty coordinating muscle movements. In 2019, Neurosyphilis cases comprised nearly 10% of all Syphilis cases in WEC. This number has been steadily growing, with 5.5% and 3% of cases in 2018 and 2017 respectively. In addition to the increased number of Neurosyphilis cases, there has also been a shift in the age of those being diagnosed. From 2010 to 2018, all Neurosyphilis cases were over 45 years of age, however in 2019, half of the cases were diagnosed in individuals 20-44 years of age.
Individuals at a higher risk of contracting Syphilis and Neurosyphilis include those engaging in unprotected sex, men having sex with men, and individuals having sex with anonymous/multiple partners. To reduce the risk of contracting and transmitting Syphilis and other STBBI’s, individual are encouraged to engage in safer sex practices such as wearing a condom and are further encouraged to get tested.
Currently, nurses in the Infectious Disease Prevention and Clinical Services departments provide follow up of all laboratory confirmed cases of Syphilis in WEC through the provision of direct clinical services and/or by working with primary health care providers in the treatment of cases. In addition to testing and treatment, nursing staff facilitate the process of contact tracing and confidential partner notification in an effort to decrease further transmission of Syphilis and other STBBI’s.
The WECHU continues to increase community awareness of the risks associated with contracting Syphilis and other STBBIs, especially among those who engage in unprotected sex and also through physician engagement strategies that support our local health care providers in the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of Syphilis cases. Initiatives to date include media segments led by our Nurse Practitioner (NP) and educational sessions for health care providers at various Windsor Essex County Community Health Centre sites. Additional NP led sessions are planned for the University of Windsor and St. Clair College student health services as well as Family Health Teams. In addition, Dr. Ahmed (MOH) provided an educational session at the Windsor Essex County Medical Society 2019 Annual Meeting,
A public awareness campaign is also under development. Currently data is being collected to explore clients’ baseline knowledge, risk factors and perceived barriers to engaging in safer sex practices in relation to Syphilis. This data will be utilized to direct our public messaging and communication strategy moving forward.
Theresa Marentette, CEO
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Karen Lukic, Health Promotion Specialist
February 20, 2020
The WECHU Taking Action on Climate Change
Climate change is a long-term shift in weather conditions. It can impact average temperatures, precipitation, wind, and other indicators. It is also linked to more frequent, extreme weather events such as storms that produce torrential rain and tornadoes. Windsor and Essex County (WEC) have experienced the impacts of climate change in recent years, such as record levels of precipitation which have led to widespread flooding events. There have also been periods of extended heat and the annual blue-green algae bloom in our lakes. These changes have also created ideal conditions for the survival of invasive mosquito species and a greater presence of insects that carry diseases not historically found in our region. WEC is the first region in Canada to identify adult Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, and have had evidence of the presence of Aedes albopictus mosquitoes since 2016. Both of these mosquitoes are vectors for viruses not normally seen in Canada, such as Zika, Dengue fever, and Chikungunya. These climate impacts are expected to persist and worsen as a result of past and present-day emissions (Government of Canada, 2017).
It has become necessary to take action on climate change globally and locally. These actions can have positive impacts on both the environment, and on the health and well-being of WEC residents. Initiatives and policies needed to address climate change can also help to protect human health, reduce health care costs, and improve health equity within our community. Examples include investments to protect current infrastructure from climate-related disasters, and implementing changes to building codes to increase the resiliency of buildings (Government of Canada, 2017). Changes can also be made to reduce the amount of energy we use, and the amount of waste that we generate to reduce our carbon foot print both at an individual and organizational level.
The WECHU has taken a number of actions to address, manage, and respond to the effects of a changing climate. On November 21, 2019 the Windsor-Essex County Board of Health passed a Local Response to Climate Change Resolution that supports ongoing advocacy efforts and public health interventions to support climate change action locally. These initiatives and programs, implemented in collaboration with key community partners, will support municipalities, local organizations, and individuals to take action and raise awareness levels about the health impacts of climate change.
The WECHU has also conducted a Climate Change and Health Vulnerability Assessment which will be used to identify and understand the impacts that a changing climate will have on the health of the WEC population, and identify those populations most vulnerable to negative health effects. Data from this assessment will be used to develop action plans for the various health impacts affecting our region.
In addition to these broader initiatives, internally, the Health Unit has implemented several changes in recent years to reduce our organization’s environmental impact. Examples include:
- Creation and implementation of policies that reduce the number of vehicles on the road (e.g. staff carpooling, the use of web conferencing technology)
- Reduction of energy consumption through conversion of office lighting to LED, and the use of power-saving modes for office equipment
- Reduction of single-use plastics, and supporting staff to drink more water and less sugar sweetened beverages through the installation of water bottle filling stations within our buildings and removal of beverage vending machines
- Reduction in office waste by providing ample resources for staff to recycle paper, plastics, glass, and batteries
- Installation of bike racks at each of the 3 Health Unit offices to encourage active transportation
Looking ahead, the organization will continue to consider its environmental impacts and updates that can be made to our policies, procedures and programs with our new workspace to reflect our organizational commitment. Examples include:
- Implementation of environmentally friendly purchasing policies that encourage buying local, recyclable goods, reducing waste from food/single-use plastics and put an emphasis on reducing the organizations carbon footprint
- A building design that conserves energy and water (e.g. LED lighting, use of natural lighting, solar panels, light sensors, power save features on office equipment, low flow toilets and faucets)
- Allowing for natural, green spaces where possible in the design and incorporating building infrastructure that support staff and client active transportation such as biking and walking
Therese Marentette, CEO
Government of Canada (2017) Adapting to the effects of climate change. Retrieved on January 13, 2020. https://www.canada.ca/en/services/environment/weather/climatechange/climate-action/adapting-to-effects.html
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