ARCHIVED - CONGRATULATIONS TO CCDR!

 

This issue of Canada Communicable Disease Report marks the end of the first 30 years in the journal's history. CCDR began life as the four-page Canada Diseases Weekly Report, first published in the week ending 10 May, 1975, under the editorship of Dr. F. M. M. White, Chief of the Communicable Disease Section, Bureau of Epidemiology, Laboratory Centre for Disease Control. Its mandate was to "achieve the objective of rapid dissemination of disease control information to all those who need to know. It will specialize in disease surveillance, epidemic investigations, case histories, international health, immunization information, and other disease control activities." In 1992 the journal's title was changed to its current one, and it became a bi-monthly Health Canada publication eight pages in length.

Early Days

One of the first issues of the Canada Diseases Weekly Report (1975; 1( 6): 21-22) provided an interesting historical note on health protection for Canadians:

THE INLAND REVENUE ACT - 1875

Curiously enough, Canada's first legislation promising a measure of health protection to Canadians was a response to public indignation over the common practice of adulterating liquor with substances such as salt, opium, hemp and tobacco. Rather than prohibit the manufacture of alcoholic beverages, Parliament passed the Inland Revenue Act of 1875, cited as 'An Act to Impose Licence Duties on Compounders of Spirits; to Amend the Act Respecting Inland Revenue; and to Prevent the Adulteration of Food, Drink, and Drugs. '

Even though the act legislated against the adulteration of food and drugs almost as an afterthought, the need for such legislation was clearly reflected in the first annual report tabled by the Commissioner of Inland Revenue in 1877. Statistics gathered by eight analysts across Canada, and compiled by the Commissioner in the annual report, revealed that 93 out of 180 samples (or 51.7%) of all food products analyzed were found to be adulterated (adulterated foods were defined as 'all articles of food with which was included any deleterious ingredients or any material of less value than is understood by the name'). The foods most commonly adulterated were milk and pepper, followed by coffee, ginger, mustard and tea. The nature of the adulteration varied according to the food involved. For example, 90% of the coffee samples analyzed contained chicory, roasted wheat, peas, or beans, and most pepper samples contained at least 25% roasted flour. By 1881, the proportion of adulterated samples had fallen to 25%, indicating some beneficial effect of the law on food adulteration practices.

In the area of drug control, however, the Inland Revenue Act had no effect. In fact, by 1883, the only drug to be examined at all was quinine wine. According to local inspectors, drugs were not analyzed because the act did not define drug adulteration and had no provisions concerning product freshness, and since, it was argued, the freshness of a drug greatly influenced its effectiveness, the Inland Revenue Act was not a suitable means of drug control.

THE ADULTERATION ACT OF 1884

With these deficiencies in the Inland Revenue Act in mind, the federal government passed, in April 1884, 'An Act to Amend and to Consolidate as Amended the Several Acts Respecting the Adulteration of Food and Drugs'. The new act, known as the Adulteration Act, officially defined food, drugs, and the adulteration of each as well as the conditions under which adulteration might take place.

Marking the Milestones

In 1980 (volume 6, number 34), Canada Diseases Weekly Report published the Declaration of Global Eradication of Smallpox (reprinted from the World Health Organization's Weekly Epidemiological Record):

The Thirty-third World Health Assembly (WHA) has declared the global eradication of smallpox.

The following resolution (WHA33.3) was adopted by the WHA on May 8, 1980:

"The Thirty-third World Health Assembly, on this the eighth day of May 1980;

Having considered the development and results of the global programme on smallpox eradication initiated by WHO in 1958 and intensified since 1967;

  1. DECLARES SOLEMNLY THAT THE WORLD AND ALL ITS PEOPLES HAVE WON FREEDOM FROM SMALLPOX, WHICH WAS A MOST DEVASTATING DISEASE SWEEPING IN EPIDEMIC FORM THROUGH MANY COUNTRIES SINCE EARLIEST TIMES, LEAVING DEATH, BLINDNESS AND DISFIGUREMENT IN ITS WAKE AND WHICH ONLY A DECADE AGO WAS RAMPANT IN AFRICA, ASIA AND SOUTH AMERICA;

  2. EXPRESSES ITS DEEP GRATITUDE TO ALL NATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS WHO CONTRIBUTED TO THE SUCCESS OF THIS NOBLE AND HISTORIC ENDEAVOUR;

  3. CALLS THIS UNPRECEDENTED ACHIEVEMENT IN THE HISTORY OF PUBLIC HEALTH TO THE ATTENTION OF ALL NATIONS, WHICH BY THEIR COLLECTIVE ACTION HAVE FREED MANKIND OF THIS ANCIENT SCOURAGE AND, IN SO DOING, HAVE DEMONSTRATED HOW NATIONS WORKING TOGETHER IN A COMMON CAUSE MAY FURTHER HUMAN PROGRESS."

In 1998, as reported in CCDR (1999; 25: 155-159, reproduced from the WHO Weekly Epidemiological Record), the World Health Assembly resolved to eradicate polio globally by the year 2000 through the following strategies: achieving and maintaining high routine coverage with oral poliovirus vaccine, conducting national immunization days to rapidly decrease poliovirus circulation, establishing sensitive surveillance systems for polio cases and poliovirus, and carrying out mopping-up vaccination activities to eliminate the last remaining reservoirs of poliovirus transmission.

In 2002, it was reported that since this 1998 World Health Assembly resolution, the global incidence of polio had decreased by 99% (CCDR 2002; 28: 146-147). By 2003, the poliovirus was circulating in only seven countries, as compared with125 countries when the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched. A serious setback occurred in 2003, when a new polio outbreak in Nigeria spread to neighbouring countries, but epidemiologists were convinced that it could be eradicated from this area. It appears to be only a matter of time before this disease can be consigned to history. (see International Note)

"A Single Epidemic of Underlying Immunosuppression"

The first reported case in Canada of what would become known as AIDS was documented in Canada Diseases Weekly Report in 1982 (volume 8, number 13). A homosexual man recently returned from Haiti had complained in May 1981 of gastroenteritis, weight loss, pain in the arms and legs, sinusitis, enlarged glands, general malaise and fatigue, alternating constipation and diarrhea, and blood in the stool. Tests showed a definite decrease in pulmonary function, although chest radiographic results revealed normal lungs and heart. The white cell count was extremely low and the sedimentation rate very high. Cholesterol was normal, but triglyceride levels were exceedingly high. Tests for autoimmune disease were negative. Further tests (including testing for cytomegalovirus) conducted a month later were inconclusive or negative, and no firm diagnosis was made.

The patient was admitted to hospital in January 1982. The esophageal monilial infection diagnosed just before admission did not improve during his hospital stay, and chest radiography was then found to be compatible with monilian pneumonia. Lung sections obtained from an open chest upper lobe biopsy revealed that the exudate within the alveoli contained round silver-staining particles compatible with Pneumocystis carinii. The patient died in February 1982. The autopsy report described a P. carinii pneumonitis, bilateral serosanguineous pleural effusion, and pulmonary edema. There was no histological evidence of Kaposi's sarcoma.

The editorial comment accompanying the case report noted that 159 documented cases of Kaposi's sarcoma, P. carinii pneumonia and other serious opportunistic infections had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control in the United States between June and November 1981. All but one of the cases had occurred in men, and 92% were reported to be homosexual or bisexual when sexual preference was known. The editorial comment continued as follows:

The simultaneous occurrence of Kaposi's sarcoma and P. carinii pneumonia among homosexual men of the same age and racial groups who live in the same geographical areas strongly suggests the occurrence of a single epidemic of underlying immunosuppression in these men. If immunosuppression is the underlying cause of these conditions, then Kaposi's sarcoma and P. carinii pneumonia may represent the "tip of the iceberg", including other conditions that are less readily recognized or have longer latency periods.

International News

CCDR has always tried to include international news of relevance to disease prevention and control. The following short note (1976; 2( 18): 72) indicates that, as far as serious diseases are concerned, one can never be too careful:

A West Germany Army reservist was sleeping in a sleeping bag inside a tent after a day of training at the Ehra-Lessien maneuver area when a fox trotted into the tent and stepped on his face. The soldier could not get his hand out of the sleeping bag fast enough so he bit the fox's paw. He said the fox "howled like a baby" and ran off. Although the fox did not bite back the soldier was treated at a hospital for possible rabies exposure.

The Current Face of CCDR

From its initial four-page format, CCDR has expanded to eight-page issues (occasionally extended to 12 or 16 pages) and now includes, as separate documents, advisory committee statements from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and the Committee to Advise on Tropical Medicine and Travel, as required, as well as journal supplements published periodically throughout the year. The Nosocomial and Occupational Infections Section of the Immunization and Respiratory Infections Division, Centre for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control, regularly disseminates its new infection control guidelines through CCDR supplements. Reports of national consensus conferences and annual summaries of notifiable diseases are also published as supplements.

The mandate of CCDR remains the same as in 1975, but its issues in recent years have reflected the new infections or diseases that have come upon the scene - HIV/ AIDS, West Nile virus, SARS, Creutzfeldt-Jackob disease, hantavirus - and new health concerns - antibiotic resistance, vaccine safety, bioterrorism, bloodborne pathogens. Throughout this time, though, one aspect of CCDR has remained constant, and that is the management of the journal by Ms. Eleanor Paulson. Eleanor was the editor when Canada Diseases Weekly Report began in 1975, and she has remained in charge of the production of CCDR to this day, carrying out her responsibilities efficiently, conscientiously and with good humour. After 30 years of government service, she has decided to retire from her job as Manager of Scientific Publication and Multimedia Services, Business Integration and Information Services Directorate, in November of this year. She will be sorely missed.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: