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June 14, 2004
Ten year communicable disease report released
Toronto Public Health has released a report summarizing communicable disease
trends in Toronto covering the decade from 1992 to 2002.

The data highlights increased rates of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases,
higher rates of tuberculosis (TB), and reductions in diseases preventable by
routine vaccination.

In a presentation to the Board of Health, Dr. Rita Shahin, Acting Director of
Communicable Disease Control, said the trends indicate the increased risks
associated with large urban settings. "The data reflect the reality of a large
urban environment and underscore the need for a comprehensive urban health
strategy that includes prevention and control of communicable diseases," said

Toronto has higher rates of most reportable diseases than neighbouring regions
and the rest of Canada. The report identifies increased risks associated with
several factors: homelessness and transient housing; a large foreign-born
population facing language and cultural barriers; a large sub-population with
mental health issues; and increased illicit drug use.

The report highlighted a number of findings:
· HIV infection reports in Toronto fell from 963 cases in 1992 to 407 in 1998.
Cases have been increasing ever since, to 608 reports in 2002, a 49 per cent
increase since 1998.
· Chlamydia and gonorrhea cases have been on the rise since 1997, increasing by
62 per cent and 50 per cent respectively in the subsequent five years.
· Infectious syphilis declined dramatically to only 19 cases in 1999 but the
number of cases increased tenfold in 2002 to 195 as a result of an outbreak
among gay and bisexual men.
· Rates of TB in Toronto are four times greater than the rest of Ontario and
twice Canada's. TB cases declined from 492 in 1995 to 380 in 2000, remaining
stable since.
· Since the introduction of the provincial two-dose measles vaccination
strategy in 1996 for all school-aged children, only 18 cases have been reported
and none in 2002.
· The proportion of outbreak-related flu cases is declining. This may be
related to higher levels of vaccination in institutions and increased testing
in the general community.

Dr. Shahin said vigilance is essential to recognizing changes in disease
activity and implementing effective control measures. "Sharing this data with
community partners will promote early detection and intervention to prevent the
spread of disease."

A backgrounder on data from this report is available at

Media contact:
Mary Margaret Crapper, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7873



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