ARCHIVED - Bloodborne Pathogens Section


Systems and Networks

The BP section undertakes and supports a variety of surveillance projects with the ultimate goals of enhancing blood safety and supporting targeted research.

Enhanced Hepatitis Strain Surveillance System

Enhanced surveillance of acute hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) was initiated in 1998 to obtain a more accurate assessment of current infection levels as well as support the development of evidence-based prevention and control programs for hepatitis B and hepatitis C. As of June 2002, the enhanced surveillance has been successfully integrated with the Viral Hepatitis Strain Surveillance System of the National Microbiology Lab (NML). This integration of epidemiologic and laboratory sciences allows for the comprehensive surveillance of newly acquired cases of viral hepatitis B and hepatitis C in Canada. The Enhanced Hepatitis Strain Surveillance System (EHSSS) was developed to enhance local public health surveillance needs for hepatitis B and C and to expand reportable data captured through the National Notifiable Disease Reporting System. Currently, eight sites from across Canada, contribute data on newly identified acute and chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections, risk factors associated with infection and in partnership with the NML viral hepatitis genotype and viral mutant information. Data derived from this surveillance initiative supports the development of evidence-based prevention and control programs, evaluates the effectiveness of preventive strategies and public health responses as well as supporting the identification of at-risk populations for targeted research and intervention.

Rapid Response Surveillance System

The Rapid Response Surveillance System (RRSS) was established to meet growing concern over new and re-emerging blood borne pathogens. The Rapid Response Surveillance System was initially set up with the Health-Care Acquired Infections Division (formerly Division of Bloodborne Pathogens) and the NML as the national coordinators. These groups and their members act in various capacities, including investigators and recruiters, consultants, and facilitators. The RRSS is comprised of a compliment of national networks representing various high risk patient populations such as multi-transfused and cell, tissues and organ transplant recipients. Ongoing concern with blood borne pathogens, both new and re-emerging, requires the continual expansion of the RRSS to support timely risk assessment of identified threats to blood safety. The RRSS in collaboration with its partners and networks is currently supporting surveillance and research in the areas of Simian Virus 40 and risk of cancer.

Canadian Viral Hepatitis Network

The Canadian Viral Hepatitis Network (CVHN) is a network comprised of leading hepatologists, infectious disease specialists and hepatitis researchers from across Canada. The CVHN was devised to pursue excellence through a fully integrated network of public health clinicians, laboratory specialists, epidemiologists and researchers who address priority public health issues in the area of viral hepatitis. The specific goals of the CVHN include: (1) To generate and share knowledge in support of clinical, laboratory and research objectives (2) To increase Canadian capacity to deal with all aspects of viral hepatitis (3) To promote excellence and innovation in research. Supported by Health Canada, the CVHN will provide data to the Bloodborne Pathogens section to monitor disease outcome and treatment effectiveness. In addition, the CVHN maintains a central registry of serum and tissue samples that can be used by the National Microbiology Laboratory to investigate changing patterns in genotype distribution and disease transmission.

Canadian Blood and Marrow Transplant Group Mini-Registry

Coordinated jointly by the Bloodborne Pathogens section and the Canadian Blood and Marrow Transplant Group Mini-Registry (CBMTG), the Registry will monitor the incidence of blood borne pathogens in special population groups such as those who are immuno-compromised and those who receive multiple transfusions. The data will be useful for disease surveillance and to support clinical research activities. Established in 2000, the Registry will formalize and standardize data collection across all transplant centers in Canada. As an member of the RRSS network, the CBMTG will collect serum and tissues samples along with epidemiological data. These samples will be made available to the BP section to investigate new and/or re-emerging blood borne pathogens. The CBMTG will also support research and healthcare delivery for transplant recipients, and the development of innovative methods to deliver health care to transplant patients. The group will further develop educational material and programs to enhance the knowledge of the public, of patients and of physicians about blood and marrow transplants and their consequences.

Parasitic Infections Network

The Division of Blood Safety Surveillance and Health Care Acquired Infections in conjunction with the Parasitic Infection Surveillance Network are responsible for the evaluation of risks to blood safety associated with parasitic diseases. The network is comprised of leading parasitologists, molecular biologists and infectious disease specialists from across Canada. Parasitic diseases have emerged as an important consideration due to increased travel and changing immigration patterns. Migration coupled with other factors such as global warming and international travel have further raised the awareness level of parasites and their impact on human populations. The primary goals of the Network are to:

  • Establish surveillance and research capacity of blood and tissue-borne parasites from across Canada
  • The development of assays for blood and tissue-borne parasites
  • Work with the Committee to advise on Tropical Medicine and Travel (CATMAT)
  • Compile a specimen/DNA bank of parasites from Canadian travellers and residents from across the country
  • To characterize parasitic infections and mode of transmission in the Canadian population
  • To monitor the incidence of parasitic infections in Canada
  • To further ensure the ongoing safety of Canada's Blood Supply

Blue Ribbon Committee on Bloodborne Parasitic Diseases
CCDR, Volume 28S3, September 2002

Bloodborne Pathogens Section

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