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Nearly 5,000 Ontarians die from infectious diseases every year


Nearly 5,000 Ontarians die from infectious diseases every year. Many of these infectious diseases get little recognition in terms of public awareness, media attention and resource allocation, says a new study released by the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (OAHPP) and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

Led by Dr. Jeff Kwong, scientist at ICES, and Dr. Natasha Crowcroft, director of surveillance and epidemiology at OAHPP, ONBOIDS is the most comprehensive review of the burden of infectious disease in Ontario to date. The study reviewed data on 51 different infectious diseases to determine their impact on the life and health of Ontarians.

The ten most burdensome infectious diseases in Ontario are:

  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Hepatitis B virus
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli)
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV/AIDS)
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Influenza
  • Clostridium difficile Rhinoviruses (common cold)

“Each year, Ontarians seek medical attention for more than seven million episodes of infectious diseases. Infectious diseases are not going away, and we as a society need to realize the impact of a number of these diseases,” says Dr. Kwong.

A large proportion of the burden of illness could be attributed to a small number of pathogens and syndromes for which highly effective targeted interventions (e.g., pneumococcal, HBV and HPV vaccines) and non-specific interventions (e.g., hand washing, male and female condoms) already exist. The future burden of some of these infectious agents and syndromes may be dramatically reduced with greater uptake of available interventions.

“It is important to remember that infectious diseases are preventable in many different ways. These findings show where and how we should be concentrating our efforts to get the greatest impact in improving the health of Ontarians. Improvements range from concentrating on immunization programs where vaccinations exist, such as for human papillomavirus, through increasing screening and access to treatment for hepatitis B and C, to developing new ways to fight infectious diseases,” says Dr. Crowcroft.

For more information, please contact:

  • Deborah Creatura
  • Media advisor
  • Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences
  • 416-480-4780 or cell 647-406-5996
  • [email protected]
  • Shirin Chalk
  • Communications specialist
  • Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion
  • 647-260-7243 or 416-669-4602
  • [email protected] 


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