# Tuesday, August 28, 2007
                 

West Nile Virus

Cases of West Nile virus have risen throughout the western provinces. Currently 213 cases have been reported in Manitoba, which is double the amount of infection for all of Canada last year. Peak exposure to West Nile usually occurs between late July to mid August, with more cases expected to be reported since incubation time for the virus is usually 3 weeks. While it is currently not an epidemic, some experts are warning that the worst is yet to come.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans when they are bitten by infected mosquitoes, which have previously fed on infected birds. Weather conditions can also play a large role in this virus, as mosquitoes prefer hot humid weather for breeding. As the first reported case of West Nile occurred in 2002, researchers are still uncertain about the long-term effects of this virus, but studies are showing that prolonged health concerns do occur.  This includes long term physical effects such as muscle weakness, paralysis, fatigue, headaches, confusion, depression, problems with concentration and/or memory loss. Therefore, it is important to recognize the symptoms of WN and obtain treatment accordingly.

Many people are bitten by infected mosquitoes and show no symptoms, and/or do not become severely ill. Illness usually occurs between 2 and 15 days of become infected, and generally causes flu-like symptoms. Mild cases of WN usually involve fever, headache and muscle ache, as well as swollen lymph glands and a rash. People who are otherwise in good health generally make a full recovery with no prolonged health problems.

For people who have weaker immune systems, including the elderly, WN can pose serious health risks, and can possibly be fatal. For these people, WN can lead to meningitis (inflammation of the spinal cord or lining of the brain) and/or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). For these severe cases, the symptoms include the sudden onset of severe headaches, high fever, stiff neck, muscle weakness, vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, loss of consciousness, and paralysis. Medical treatment should be sought immediately if you have experienced a mosquito bite and are experiencing these symptoms. West Nile virus can cause these extreme symptoms in people of every age bracket and health status.

It is important during the season to pay attention to your local news or local health agency to be informed if any WN cases have been confirmed in your area. As WN can quickly spread to different regions via  birds, it is important to minimize your risk of being bitten. Some helpful tips for reducing your exposure are:

• Try to avoid being outside at dawn and/or dusk, as this is the period when mosquitoes are most active


• Wear long sleeved shirts and long pants when outside, as well as a hat; this will deter bites


• When going outside, use insect repellent. If you are planning on being outside for a long period of time, make sure you re-apply the repellant if needed


• Make sure your windows are properly fitted with screens so mosquitoes cannot enter your house. Do not leave your doors open.


• Mosquitoes need standing pools of water to breed. Make sure you remove standing water from such places as birdbaths, pool covers, flower pots, pet bowls and wading pools. You can also clean your eaves troughs in order to prevent clogs that can trap water.


• Report any dead birds to your local health agency, as testing can be done to determine if the bird is infected.

If you experience any of the mentioned symptoms, and have mosquito bites, see your family healthcare provider. As long-term effects of WN are not yet known, it is important to be aware of the virus, and to keep your physician informed. As the global climate changes, so does the habits and habitats of mosquitoes. This is also true for the birds that originally carry the virus. Check with local health agencies every summer for the latest data and information.

posted on Tuesday, August 28, 2007 4:37:12 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Monday, August 20, 2007
                 

Health Insurance for Students Studying In Canada

In a few short weeks, students from all over the world will be heading to Canadian universities and colleges. As a multi-cultural country, Canada welcomes foreign students, and recognizes their contribution to our communities. If you are not a Canadian citizen, and are planning on attending a post-secondary institution here, you should be aware of what exactly is entailed.

Non-Canadian citizens will require approximately 6 months in order to gather the required documentation and information that is needed. Make sure you allow yourself the necessary time to apply for and receive your documents and permits. You will need to allot time in order to find housing, etc. You will also need to determine how much money you will need in order to cover tuition, books, housing, etc. As you will not be covered under provincial healthcare, it is advisable to also purchase health coverage.

For those who wish to continue their education in Canada, we have provided some helpful tips to help you with the process.

• You must first choose the institution you wish to attend. Every university and college has it's own admission requirements, especially regarding language capabilities. It is important that you meet these requirements and are eligible for enrolment. It is advised that you apply a year before you wish to attend. Contact the university/college that you are interested in and obtain the necessary information and application forms. You must have your proof of acceptance before you apply for your study permit.


• Once you have your proof of acceptance, you can now apply for your study permit. In order to be eligible for this permit, you will need to prove that you have enough money to cover your expenses. This includes your tuition, living expenses for you and any family members that are coming with you to Canada, and transportation between Canada and your current country of residence. You may also need to obtain a certificate from the police stating that you have no criminal record and are not a risk to Canadian security. You must be willing to complete a medical examination, if necessary, in order to prove that you are in good health. An immigration officer may want to verify that you intend on leaving Canada upon completion of your studies.

• You are now ready to apply for your study permit. You will need to find out how long it will take to process your application. You can do this by visiting the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website. This website also has the necessary forms for you to download and print. Check the List of Designated Countries to see if you also need to apply for a temporary resident visa as well as your study permit. You do not need a separate application for a visa, as a visa officer will process your application at the same time. Collect all of the documents you will need to provide, such as your proof of acceptance, proof of identity, proof of financial support and letter of explanation. Once you have all your documentation in order, submit your application to the nearest visa office. You will be required to pay a processing fee, which is non-refundable, even if your application is denied.

• Once your application is approved, you will receive a letter of introduction confirming your approval. You must bring this letter with you to show immigration officials when you arrive in Canada. If you are from a designated country in which you require a visa, the Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) will be in your passport. This indicates the expiry date in which you must arrive in Canada, and also whether or not you will be allowed to enter Canada multiple times during your stay. Make sure you bring all of your necessary documents, as you will be required to show them before admittance into Canada.

The Canadian government does not cover the medical costs incurred by foreign students. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that foreign students purchase their own health insurance coverage. HealthQuotes.ca offers several Visitors to Canada insurance plans. These plans provide coverage for foreign students attending school in Canada. To qualify, you must be a full-time student during the time of coverage. These policies cover expenses such as:

•  Hospitalization
• Physician Fees
• Medical Appliances
• Nursing Care
• Diagnostic Services
• Prescription Drugs
• Dental Care
• Ambulance

For more information about health insurance for foreign students, please contact one of our brokers.

posted on Monday, August 20, 2007 3:36:18 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Tuesday, August 7, 2007
                 

Lyme Disease In Canada

Lyme disease can pose a serious health risk, depending where you live in Canada. Lyme disease is caused by bacteria that are usually carried by mice, squirrels, birds and other small animals. This infection is transmitted to humans via certain species of ticks, who first bite the infected animal, and then bite people. For people who live in southern British Columbia, southern and eastern Ontario, southeastern Manitoba and Nova Scotia, caution should be used when being outdoors during the spring thru to the fall.

Canada currently has 2 species of ticks which have been associated with transmitting Lyme disease. The western blacklegged tick has been identified as the species that inhabits British Columbia. Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia are home to the blacklegged tick, more commonly known as the deer tick. Transmission generally occurs when humans walk through tall grass or vegetation, whereupon the tick attaches itself to the skin.

If you reside in, are visiting, or plan on visiting one of these provinces, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of Lyme disease. Although symptoms vary from person to person, Lyme disease commonly has three stages. The most common first symptom is a circular rash that begins at the site of the bite. The rash usually occurs 3-30 days after being bitten by a tick. A person bitten by an infected tick may also experience fatigue, chills, headache, muscle and joint pain, fever and swollen lymph nodes. If this first stage is left untreated, the disease will progress to the second stage, which lasts several months. The second stage includes symptoms such as multiple skin rashes, migraines, painful and/or stiff joints, extreme fatigue and abnormal heartbeat. The third stage is comprised of chronic arthritis and neurological symptoms, which can include headaches, dizziness, paralysis and numbness.

Lyme disease, if left untreated, can develop into a chronic illness that is difficult to treat. If caught in the early stages, it is effectively controlled with antibiotics. Therefore, it is crucial that during tick season Canadians who live in the mentioned areas are aware of these symptoms. For those who spend time outdoors in the affected regions, there are several things you can do to minimize your risk of being bitten and potentially being infected.

• Check with your local public health office. They will have the current information on whether these ticks are currently in your area.
• When spending time outdoors, especially where there is tall grass and/or wooded areas, wear light-colored clothing that covers your entire body. Wearing light colored clothing will allow you to see if a tick is on you. In order to make sure ticks have no access to bare skin, tuck your shirt into your pants, and tuck your pant legs into your socks.
• Avoid wearing sandals or open shoes.
• Spray your clothing and exposed skin with insect repellent.
• Although cats and dogs cannot transmit the virus to humans, they can carry the ticks into your home. If you have pets that spend time outdoors, make sure you check them regularly for ticks.
• Check your clothing and body thoroughly for tick bites each and every time after spending times outdoors. If you discover a tick attached to your skin, grasp the tick's head with tweezers and slowly pull it out. Be careful not to crush or twist the tick when removing it. Save the tick in a bottle or plastic bag, in order for easy laboratory identification in case you develop Lyme disease. If you develop a rash or any other symptoms, immediately seek medical help.
• Remember that even if you don't live in one of the identified regions, migratory birds can spread the ticks into new areas.

Fortunately for Canadians, the risk of Lyme disease is fairly low. By exercising these simple precautions, you can greatly reduce your risk of being bitten, or, if bitten, reducing the length and severity of the illness.

posted on Tuesday, August 7, 2007 3:14:30 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
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