Friday, March 25, 2011 | Categories: Episodes
Respiratory Syncytial Virus - Anna Banerji
Watching a baby with Respiratory Syncytial Virus isn't an easy thing to do. RSV is a lower respiratory tract infection ... one of the worst kinds. It starts like a cold or flu. But it can become very serious, very quickly. The baby's lips turn blue. The baby struggles to breathe. Some end up in hospital for weeks ... fighting to stay alive with oxygen masks or breathing tubes. Some die.
In many parts of Canada, the rates of lower respiratory tract infection -- the worst being RSV -- in children under a year are between 10 and 30 per thousand. But in the north, they are much, higher - somewhere between 300 and 500 per thousand.
There is a vaccine for RSV. And two years ago, the Canadian Pediatric Society recommended that it be given to all infants under six months who live in remote, northern areas. But despite that, Nunavut -- which experts say -- has the highest rate of RSV in the world -- only gives the vaccine to premature infants or those with chronic heart or lung issues.
Anna Banerji would like that to change. She is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. She also works with the Department of Pediatrics and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. And she has been studying respiratory tract infections in the Arctic for the last 16 years. She was in Toronto.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus - Dr. Isaac Sobol
The RSV season in Nunavut is coming to an end. So far this year, there have been three infant deaths that raised suspicions of RSV. Initial autopsy results suggest one died of Herpes simplex virus, not RSV ... another died of pneumonia, which may have been brought on by RSV. The investigation in the third case is still inconclusive. The family of one of the babies who died has retained legal council.
The deaths have spurred local politicians to demand some kind of public inquiry. Paul Quassa -- the Acting Mayor of Igloolik -- wants a coroner's inquest. We aired a clip.
Dr. Isaac Sobol is Nunavut's Chief Medical Officer of Health. He was in Duncan, British Columbia this morning.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus - Shirley Tagalik
Shirley Tagalik says that RSV is just one part of a much bigger problem in Nunavut. She's the Chair of the Arviat Health Committee. And she says Nunavut's health care system is failing its people. Shirley Tagalik was in Arviat, Nunavut.
Other segments from today's show: