Rates of syphilis in Alberta on the rise
Infectious and congenital syphilis rates have escalated across the province over the past five years, with a sharp increase in 2018.
The rapid increase in syphilis cases has spurred Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, to declare a provincial outbreak and encourage Albertans to get tested and protect themselves.
“We need to emphasize for all Albertans: Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are a risk to anyone who is sexually active, particularly people who have new sex partners and are not using protection. I encourage anyone who is sexually active to get tested regularly. Anyone in Alberta can access STI testing and treatment for free.”
In response to the sharp rise in 2018, a provincial outbreak coordination committee composed of Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services (AHS) and other provincial health officials has been activated. Over the next three months, the committee will develop a coordinated strategy and determine concrete actions to increase STI testing, promote public awareness and reduce the overall number of syphilis cases in Alberta.
“Sexual health is an important part of overall health. We are working with community partners to remove stigma and increase awareness about STI testing services throughout Alberta. If you are sexually active, make regular STI testing part of your health routine.”
A total of 1,536 cases of infectious syphilis were reported in 2018 compared to 161 in 2014, almost a tenfold increase. The rate of infectious syphilis has not been this high in Alberta since 1948.
Congenital syphilis, which occurs when a child is born to a mother with syphilis, is a severe, disabling and life-threatening disease. While congenital syphilis cases were rare before the outbreak, there were 22 congenital syphilis cases between 2014 and 2018, one of which was stillborn.
Consistent and correct condom use is important protection against STIs such as syphilis. Like other STIs, the symptoms of syphilis may not be obvious. Health experts recommend sexually active people, regardless of gender, age or sexual orientation, get tested every three to six months if they:
- have a sexual partner with a known STI
- have a new sexual partner or multiple or anonymous sexual partners
- have previous history of an STI diagnosis
- have been sexually assaulted
Prenatal care including syphilis testing is available for all Albertans. It is critical that anyone who is pregnant seeks early prenatal care and testing for syphilis during pregnancy.
Anyone experiencing STI-related symptoms should seek testing through their local health-care provider. Call Health Link at 811, visit a STI or sexual health clinic or speak to a family doctor to find testing and treatment options.
- 2018 case counts for infectious syphilis by AHS zone:
- South Zone: 31 cases, an increase of 138.5 per cent compared to 2017
- Calgary Zone: 206 cases, an increase of 7.3 per cent compared to 2017
- Central Zone: 88 cases, an increase of 266.7 per cent compared to 2017
- Edmonton Zone: 977 cases, an increase of 305.4 per cent compared to 2017
- North Zone: 208 cases, an increase of 324.5 per cent compared to 2017
- For further breakdown of STI 2018 numbers, see the 2018 STI and HIV Summary Report.
- Alberta Health works with AHS and community organizations towards prevention, health promotion, outreach testing, education, harm reduction, and addressing stigma. Previous actions include:
- Grants to the Alberta Community Council on HIV to support community organizations across the province to prevent and reduce STIs, reduce harm associated with the non-medical consumption of substances and support health in their own geographic locations.
- Alberta Health has provided three one-time grants totalling a combined $2 million since 2017 to combat the rising rates of STI, including syphilis, focusing on raising awareness and education, reducing stigma and increasing testing and treatment.
- Since 2016, Alberta Health Services and Alberta Health have been working with over 100 provincial partners to develop innovative approaches to increasing access to STI services across the province.
The old paving scam is back – don’t fall for it
August 19, 2019
Alberta RCMP warns property owners of paving contractor scams
Edmonton—This summer, the Alberta RCMP has received reports of several incidents involving paving scams in Western Alberta. Travelling companies, posing as legitimate contractors, offer paving or sometimes roof sealing services typically to senior citizens in rural communities. These individuals have been known to provide few details of their identity and utilize non-descript vehicles rarely bearing commercial logos.
The Alberta RCMP urges property owners to beware of out-of-town companies offering such services. The contractors claim to have leftover asphalt from previous jobs and promise to provide quality services. However, the product used is believed to be cold, recycled asphalt or a gravel and oil mixture with no lasting properties. This results in the asphalt falling apart once it is driven on. By that time, these fraudsters are long gone, disappearing with their payment before the customer realizes they have been scammed.
We would like to remind residents to exercise caution when retaining contractor services and if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Residents should be weary of any contractors who:
- Come to your door saying they are working in the area offering a deal for leftover asphalt
- Drive vehicles bearing no business names or logos
- Pressure you into making a quick decision or refuse to take “no” for an answer
- Ask for a down payment to buy materials
- Refuse to give you a written quote with their business name, physical address and outlining the services they will provide prior to completing the work
Here a few tips to avoid falling prey to scammers:
- Before agreeing to contract a person who comes to your door, get names of their previous customers and verify that they were satisfied with the work
- Do some research on the company with either the Better Business Bureau in Alberta, with the Consumer Investigations Unit, with your local Rural Crime Watch or on social media site
- Make sure to obtain a written quote from the contractor that includes the full business name, full address, phone number, GST number and provincial and municipal license numbers, if applicable
- Ensure the quote you receive gives details such as the quantity and specifies the quality of materials being offered
- Obtain quotes from local supplier as a form of comparison
The Alberta RCMP is working with the Alberta Consumer Investigation Unit (CIU) to counter this trend. If you or anyone you know have any information on these companies, please contact the Consumer Investigations Unit – North (north of Ponoka) at 587-985-4735 or the Consumer Investigations Unit – South (south of Ponoka) at 403-803-8229.
Energy Companies calling on average Canadians to make oil and gas top of mind for federal politicians
Three of Canada’s top energy sector leaders are asking average Canadians to boost Canada’s energy industry ahead of this fall’s federal election. The Presidents of Cenovus Energy, Canadian Natural Resources Limited, and MEG Energy have penned an “Open Letter to Canadians” urging everyone to talk to federal candidates about supporting the energy sector.
The letter makes a simple assessment of the facts surrounding energy creation worldwide and asks Canadians to back our own companies as they attempt to lead the way toward “a lower carbon future”…
Open letter to Canadians from:
Tim McKay, Canadian Natural Resources Limited,
Alex Pourbaix, Cenovus Energy,
Derek Evans, MEG Energy
We have big decisions to make as a country, and there is an opportunity for each of you to influence the outcome.
Canadians want to know what the energy sector is doing to address the global climate change challenge while working to strengthen our economy.
As energy company leaders, we believe Canada is ideally positioned to do its part to both positively impact climate change and ensure a strong and vibrant economy for the future.
This is not an ‘either’ ‘or’ conversation, it’s an ‘and’ conversation.
The world needs more energy to sustain a growing global economy that is expected to lift three billion people out of poverty in the decades ahead. We need more wind, solar and hydro, but oil and natural gas remain a large part of the mix too. This is true in even the most optimistic scenarios for the worldwide adoption of renewable energy.
The world also needs to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But shutting down Canada’s oil industry will have little impact on global targets. In fact, it could have the opposite effect, with higher carbon fuels replacing our lower emissions products.
A healthy Canadian oil and natural gas industry is vital in leading the way to a lower carbon future.
Made-in-Canada technologies that reduce emissions at our oil and natural gas operations could be adapted for sharing with other industries worldwide. We are already making meaningful progress developing those solutions.
We’ve reduced the emissions intensity in the oil sands by about 30% over the past two decades, and a number of oil sands operations are producing oil with a smaller greenhouse gas impact than the global average. We’re working to get those numbers even lower.
And Canada’s energy companies are the country’s single largest investors in clean tech. Through organizations such as Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC) and the Clean Resource Innovation Network (CRIN) we are continuing to work on – and share – breakthrough technologies.
But we can’t do it alone.
And that’s why we are writing this letter.
As we head into the upcoming election, we are asking you to join us in urging Canada’s leaders of all political stripes to help our country thrive by supporting an innovative energy industry. One that can contribute to solving the global climate change challenge and play a significant role in creating future energy solutions by developing our resources in the cleanest most responsible way possible today.
The choices we make will determine the quality of life we create for ourselves and future generations. These choices will impact our ability to fund schools, hospitals, parks and the social programs that we as Canadians so deeply value.
This isn’t about any particular pipeline, policy or province. This is about the future of Canada.
President Canadian Natural Resources Limited
President & CEO Cenovus Energy
President & CEO MEG Energy
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