Ottawa Public Health Struggles with Rise in Infectious Diseases: Report

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is facing challenges due to a significant increase in infectious diseases, with factors such as migration, climate change, and vaccine hesitancy playing a role in the uptick.

A report set to be presented at the upcoming Ottawa Board of Health meeting highlights a notable rise in various infections compared to data from 2017 to 2019. The report excludes influenza and COVID-19 cases primarily found in long-term care facilities.

According to OPH, the current resources are insufficient to effectively address the surge in disease rates outlined in the report. The agency anticipates further strain on its programs as infectious diseases are projected to continue rising beyond 2024.

Key findings from the report show a significant increase in confirmed cases of ten diseases in Ottawa, including Group A Streptococcal Disease, Lyme disease, HIV, and Hepatitis B. While infectious disease reports decreased during the pandemic, many are now surpassing pre-pandemic levels, with OPH confirming 7,608 cases in 2023 alone.

Various factors contribute to the rise in infectious diseases, including population growth, travel, immigration, and climate change leading to the emergence of new diseases. Additionally, a decline in vaccine coverage post-COVID-19 has resulted in a resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases.

OPH emphasizes that individuals facing social and economic barriers are disproportionately affected by the increase in infectious diseases, citing a lack of family doctors in the city as a contributing factor. The agency calls for a review of funding formulas and standards to manage the growing workload effectively.

Moreover, OPH urges the province to expedite the development of a provincial infectious disease surveillance tool to monitor and control the spread of infectious diseases more efficiently.