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Webinar: Prion diseases
Thursday, March 20, 2014 12:00 pm to 01:15 pm
Venue: Teleconference, Webinar
Infectious Diseases
City: Thunder Bay
Format: Teleconference; Webinar

Learning Objectives:

Prion diseases are rare, fatal, transmissible neurodegenerative diseases that affect both humans and animals. They have been causally linked to an abnormal, misshapen form of a normal host protein, of which the transmissible agent is believed to consist. Despite their rarity, the many unusual and difficult features of prion diseases, combined with their transmissibility, have maintained public health concern for the past several decades. In Canada, this has led to ongoing prospective national surveillance of human prion diseases (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, CJD) since 1998. In this presentation, the key features of prion diseases will be reviewed, and the main findings of CJD surveillance in Canada will be presented. Also included will be an overview of the principles underlying diagnosis of classic forms of CJD. Through this discussion, it is hoped that the audience will better appreciate the nature of the public health issues presented by CJD.


Dr. Michael B Coulthart
Dr. Coulthart trained in genetics, evolution and infectious diseases at McMaster University, Dalhousie University and the John P. Robarts Research Institute, before joining Health Canada in 1995 as a research scientist in microbial population genetics. With emerging concerns over prion diseases in relation to food and blood safety in the mid-1990s, he was asked to contribute to establishing Canada’s first national surveillance and laboratory system for human prion diseases. Since 2005, he has been Director of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Canadian Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance System, which conducts ongoing national surveillance, laboratory diagnosis and research on human prion diseases in partnership with the University of Ottawa. Dr. Coulthart’s scientific interests are focused on the epidemiology of prion diseases, optimizing approaches to their diagnosis and surveillance, and linking evidence with public health practice to mitigate their health risks.

Target audience:

Infection Control Professionals, Health Care Professionals in Acute Care, Long-Term Care, Community and Public Health

Additional Information:

Public Health Ontario is committed to complying with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). If you require accommodations to participate in this event, or have any questions please contact Brandy KirchenReese at or 888-378-4916.


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