St Hyacinthe

More about the staff I met at the Agence de la Santa publique du Canada in St Hyacinthe

Erin Rees

Erin is an epidemiologist who uses quantitative methods to study issues of population health for wildlife, food production animals and humans. Her research outcomes are applied to advising management of population health. This includes developing strategies to optimise use of surveillance data, identify vulnerable individuals and populations, and evaluate the effectiveness of management and disease control strategies.

Erin is also involved in the Global Public Health Intelligence Network(GPHIN). GPHIN’s mission is to be an indispensable source of early warning for potential public health threats worldwide including chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN). The network scans news sources, social media etc for words and analysis the wording and starts to build a picture of threats as they develop.

Erin’s work with regard to Lyme disease involves developing a model to estimate tick abundance while considering the contributing covariates such as forest, elevation and temperature

Dragging for ticks in Bromont with Camille Guillot

Camille is a veterinary student ( who graduated from Edinburgh University as a medical Doctor in 2015) but she loves to study and enjoys the Zoonoses aspect, so she is now training to be a vet. Camille is helping to collect ticks. Bromont is a beautiful area up in the hills and surrounded by trees .

The community were aware of the risks and came forward looking for help/ support for the area. The studies are starting with identifying tick abundance, location of ticks ( peri-domestic or public areas) with a view to progress to testing management solutions as the project moves forward.

We found 10 ticks, which will be sent for analysis.

Camille pointed out an area which was set up for collecting maple syrup from the trees. On the first picture you will see a network of green tubing going from tree to tree and the second image is a close up of one of them. This is the modern way of collecting historically it used to be buckets/ containers sitting at the base of the tree collecting when the tree would start in ooze the syrup. The trees actively leak! the syrup in the spring after the winter frost has started to thaw.

At the beginning of the area we dragged at I noticed a couple of signs and was very disappointed to not see any tick warning notices

However further in on the path, this was displayed!!

This was very encouraging.

Jules Konan Koffi

Jules has worked for PHAC since 2009, in the Centre for Food-borne , Environmental and Zoonotic Infectious Disease he was tasked with designing a Lyme disease surveillance system.

There is a national notifiable surveillance system for a range of disease and there is a second enhanced surveillance system for Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is reported from the Doctor – Regional Government- Provincial Government -Federal Government. Currently it is a paper system which requires the data to be transferred. The data has to be validated and checked before it can be released as the national statistics and due to the way the data is collected it is a time consuming exercise. The working group can be put under pressure from Lyme advocacy groups about the release of the data but the process is adhered to strictly to ensure the data going into the public domain is correct.

There is a national working group which includes representation from the 10 Provincial governments, only 9 provinces currently input data for the Lyme enhanced surveillance but they are engaged in the process.

Yann Pelcat

Yann is a medical geographer who started with PHAC in 2009. Prior to that he worked as a neogronomist within the agriculture field.

In his role in PHAC he specialises in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), this software allows you to map out disease. Authorities provide precise data/information of cases, locations etc on a data spreadsheet and Yann transfers that onto maps.

The first map is of tick known endemic areas and suspected endemic areas

This map shows the movement of West Nile virus

This form of mapping is used nationally to map diseases and requires each province to provided consistent data.

Yann’s mapping skills have been used to support the two emergency operations centres in Canada that were used to support the response to the Ebola outbreak in the Congo.


DA, Nick and I went to visit the National park at Mount Saint Bruno. Canada operates a no right to roam policy so people who wish to walk are restricted to roadside walking or travelling to the national parks. This park was lovely, it cost DA and I $17 to get in but Nick and people who live close by pay an annual membership and it gives access to all the parks in Quebec. Tick research is being undertaken within the park by a PhD student called Ariane Dumas (Ill tell you about it next).

In the summer the park is an array of walking trails and in the winter with the snowfall it becomes a cross country ski location. More information is available on the park website:

DA and Nick

Infected ticks have been collected in the park so it was reassuring to see warning notices.

Outside display

Leaflets on tick and mosquitoes were available inside

On Friday I listened in on a teleconference with Ariane Dumas, Nick Ogden and smiling on the phone! are Robbin Lindsay and Antonia Dibernardo in Winnipeg.

The group met to discuss Ariane’s studies at St Bruno national park. Ariane is a student of the University of Montreal.

Her PhD title is ‘Ecology and emergence dynamics of Lyme disease at a fine spatial site’.

Ariane has been undertaking sites visits since 2016 , she identified 32 sites within the park and collected ticks by dragging, trapped rodents, birds and small mammals to examine them and remove ticks for analysis and identified environmental factors within the park.

The study will be looking at tick abundance, transmission hosts, environmental factors and observe changes in these over the 3 years of data collection as well as look for Borrelia burgdorferi and identify any other strains and look at what strains are prevelant in which hosts and gain information on the host activity.

Robbin and Antonia undertake the laboratory testing.

Rue Sicotte social activities

Thursday lunch with staff at Rue Sicotte (DA was there too) luckily as we struggled with the menu in french and ended up with enough chicken, rice and salad for 2 meals each.


Staff are involved in a music group and they are practicing for the Christmas party!

Catherine and Camille with the Miranda Forrest glass necklaces I gave them as gifts.


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