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As a student athlete in high school, the possibility of getting injured and missing a game felt like the end of the world, never mind missing a tournament or an entire season. 

But as someone who has known fellow teammates who have experienced concussions, I understand that the very real effects of this head injury can last much longer than high school, leaving permanent brain damage.

While it can feel frustrating to be sitting out of a game, the potential permanent effects of a concussion can cause serious physical harm, damage relationships and affect school performance. 

Awareness about concussions is better today than when I was in high school, however, the fear of sitting on the sidelines and “missing out” is still a major issue.

When in doubt, sit out and talk to your coach, parents and doctor.  

For more information:


Have you recently been to an Ottawa area hospital?  Maybe you were a patient, visiting someone or even going in to work your shift? You may have noticed that the air you are breathing feels a little fresher!

As members of the Smoke-Free Hospital Workgroup, local hospitals including the Ottawa Hospital, The Queensway Carleton Hospital, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, The Royal, Hôpital Montfort, CHEO and Ottawa Public Health are partnering to support patients, visitors and staff who smoke.

Each hospital campus has supports in place to help patients and staff quit smoking or curb their cravings.

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Catching the flu virus can cause some indi­viduals to stay at home and in bed for a few days, but it can also result in seri­ous illness, especially for some of the city’s most vulnerable residents. Seniors, young children and infants, and pregnant women are at higher risk of influenza complications such as pneumonia and infection. Healthy residents of any age can become ill with the flu and can spread the virus to those at highest risk of complications. This is why every fall, Ottawa Public Health strives to get all Ottawa residents aged six months and older vaccinated in order to reduce the spread of the virus in the community.

A welcome expansion this season was the increased participation of pharmacies in Ottawa’s influenza vaccination program. This year, Ottawa residents had the convenient option of visiting close to 140 pharmacies in the city to get their flu vaccine.

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Food carts and trucks serving classic “street food” favourites have been a part of Ottawa’s streetscape for years. In 2013, Ottawa welcomed the addition of 17 new food trucks and carts to its streets. From Asian cuisine to Mexican treats, these new vendors offer delicious dishes for Ottawa residents and visitors to enjoy in more than 60 locations. For public health inspectors, the inspection process involved with all food carts and trucks in Ottawa provides the opportunity to educate operators on the importance of stringent food safety practices to reduce the likelihood of foodborne illness.

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In 2013, youth between the ages of 15 to 29 accounted for 75% of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea cases in Ottawa. Not using a condom was identified as the top risk factor among indi­viduals diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI), prompting Ottawa Public Health (OPH) to launch Sex It Smart. This youth condom awareness campaign was launched on Valentine’s Day at the Rideau Centre alongside partners from Planned Parenthood Ottawa, AIDS Committee of Ottawa, the Youth Zone and the Somerset West Community Health Centre. Youth played a big part in the the devel­opment and execution of the campaign.

Sex It Smart encourages residents to go to OPH’s mobile friendly website, The well-travelled website includes an Ottawa condom finder, STI prevention mes­sages and information on proper condom use.

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With the recent introduction of Municipal Child Care Healthy Eating and Active Living Guidelines, children at municipal child care centres are eating better and moving more. Ottawa Public Health and the City of Ottawa’s Community and Social Services Department developed the guidelines, which were piloted in five centres in the spring of 2013 and have now been adopted in 11 municipal child care centres.

The guidelines set the stage for healthy living by recommending that all children have healthy meals, a positive eating environment and a wide range of opportunities to be active while in care. They also improve the quality of food being served to children by choosing whole ingredients such as fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as replacing processed and pre-packaged food. Child care providers also sit and eat the same healthy snacks with the children to provide a good role model for healthy eating.

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ParticipACTION’s  #SneakItIn Week returns from April 7 to 11, 2014. Join this movement by wearing your sneakers at work and finding ways to sneak in a few extra steps into your day!

Sneak It in Week aims to get Canadians more physically active during the workday. For many Canadians, most of our days are spent sitting at our desks or in our cars. Canadian adults are sedentary for approximately 9.5 hours per day. This is a major factor in our country’s low physical activity levels. Research also shows that this sedentary behaviour or sitting time is harmful to our health.

Here are some simple ways to break up that sedentary time at work:

  • Walk to lunch;
  • Park a few blocks away or at the far end of the parking lot;
  • Skip the elevator, take the stairs;
  • Take a walk on your coffee break.

For more information visit ParticipACTION’s website, Facebook and Twitter and use the hashtag #SneakItIn Check out the contests and prizes available and have fun being active! 

Reduce your chance of infection from vector borne illness by doing the following:

  • Apply an approved mosquito repellent to exposed skin and clothing.
  • Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, shoes and socks to protect exposed skin.
  • Wear light coloured, tightly woven clothing - mosquitoes are attracted to darker colours and can still bite through thin clothing.
  • Avoid wearing scented perfumes, deodorants and personal products.
  • Avoid the hours between dusk and dawn - periods when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Make sure all windows and doors in your home have screens that are in good condition.
  • Protecting yourself when travelling to locations where serious mosquito borne diseases may be common.

Eliminate standing water sites around your home

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Last week, at the Ottawa Board of Health March 17, 2014 meeting, we released our 2013 Annual Report

We want to thank funders and community partners for their continued support and contributions to public health programs and services. 

Every day, we are in the community, working with individuals, families and groups to help them be healthy, safe and actively find their pathway to health. Here are some examples of what we have accomplished with our partners in 2013:

  • 21,261 client visits to our Sexual Health Centres
  • 19,219 doses of HepB, Menactra, HPV vaccine administered to students
  • 21,121 visits to OPH dental clinics
  • 483 active transportation activities conducted in elementary and secondary schools
  • 150 Public Health and City staff, as well as 250 community members trained in safeTALK suicide prevention
  • 4,300 participants in our smoking cessation programs
  • 12,151 food safety inspections
  • 5,965 visits to BabyExpress drop-ins
  • 10,629 home visits by Healthy Babies, Healthy Children staff
  • 2,132 registrants for our certi­fied food handler training course
  • 2,368 trained in Community Connect
  • 152 investigated institutional outbreaks, 3,086 institution staff and residents affected
  • 16,515 Twitter followers

The full 2013 Annual Report is available online.

For questions, please contact or send us a tweet!


Ottawa restaurants are invited to participate in our Voluntary Menu Labelling Pilot Project for independently-owned restaurants and Ottawa-based chain restaurants and franchises.

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