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Soaring syphilis rates, problematic food items from China, a rare case of rabies in a human, and more in this week’s top Canadian health news stories.

Health News Recap

  • The Canadian government will not support plans by the United States to import prescription medications from Canada if it will threaten supplies or raise costs domestically, according to documents obtained by Reuters. At least 10 US states have proposed or passed laws to permit the importation of lower-cost Canadian prescription drugs.
  • Nutrition experts criticized Andrew Scheer, leader of the federal Conservatives, for his promise to review the new Canada Food Guide if his party is elected to government. Scheer claimed the guide is flawed and not evidence-based, but nutrition experts say the guide is based on science and suggest Scheer is currying favour with the dairy industry, which has supported him in the past.
  • The federal government announced an additional $76.2 million to help combat the opioid crisis and other emerging drug threats, such as a rise in the use of methamphetamine. Much of the investment will be used to expand access to life-saving measures, such as naloxone kits, in underserved communities.
  • About 900 food products from China fell short of Canadian health standards between 2017 and 2019, found the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Problems included inadequate labeling, unlisted allergens and contaminants such as glass, metal and insects.
  • Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor defended supervised drug-consumption sites. Her comments were prompted by recent remarks by Jason Luan, Alberta’s associate minister of mental health and addictions, who questioned the value of the sites, claiming they just “feed a disease.”
  • Canada’s health sector needs to overhaul how it treats chronic pain, according to a report from the Canadian Pain Task Force. About one in five Canadians live with chronic pain but most have limited access to services and “often face stigma and undue suffering,” states the report.
  • Doctors in Ontario saw 52,780 cases of sexual assault between 2002 and 2016, according to a study by the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and ICES. The highest rate was among females 15–19 years old, but sexual assault “was documented across all age groups and sexes, from children to elders.”
  • Syphilis rates in Alberta are at their highest since 1948 and the province has declared an outbreak. There were 1536 reported cases in 2018, compared to just 161 in 2014.
  • Ontario’s health minister said the province is stockpiling high-dose flu vaccines in anticipation of a “very difficult” flu season. The prediction of a challenging flu season is based on high activity in Australia, where 200 deaths have been attributed to an early flu season and hospitalization rates have increased three-fold.
  • A 21-year-old man in British Columbia died from rabies after coming into contact with a bat. There have been only three human deaths attributed to contact with rabid bats in Canada since 2000.

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