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June 18, 2014

In July of 2012 Babesia odocoilei was determined to be the cause of death of a game ranched elk in central Saskatchewan. Another 10 bull elk on the farm were suspected of having died of this parasite within the previous few weeks but unfortunately autopsies were not performed to confirm the diagnosis. This was the first report of Babesia odocoilei in Canada. Babesia odocoilei is a single-celled parasite that infects and destroys red blood cells causing infected animals to become anemic, lethargic and to lose weight. The parasite is transmitted by ticks and to date the only species known to be a competent vector for this parasite is Ixodes scapularis, the blacklegged or deer tick, although Dermacentor spp. have been implicated in some cases. Ixodes scapularis is not endemic to Saskatchewan.

Babesia odocoilei is endemic in white-tailed deer in the southern and eastern United States with prevalence exceeding 50% in some areas. Infections have also been reported in the north-central and north-eastern US. The parasite natural infects other cervid and bovid species and these infections are often fatal in elk, reindeer and caribou.

To investigate this novel disease occurrence further, the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC), Western and Northern Region, along with other researchers at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) initiated a study to assess the prevalence of infection in farmed and wild cervids in Saskatchewan, both prospectively, using ongoing submissions to our diagnostic lab, and retrospectively, using formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissues archived from diagnostic cases dating back to 1970. We first validated techniques and primers for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test specific for B. odocoilei and have begun the process of testing spleens from these cases. Although testing and analysis is not complete we have so far confirmed B. odocoilei infection in one other game farmed elk and in a wild white-tailed deer in the province (see map). Preliminary results have detected other positive cases but we are doing additional testing to confirm the results.

This work has several important outcomes. First it has allowed us to develop PCR diagnostic tools to identify a disease agent which would not normally be detected during autopsy of an animal; anemia and weight loss would be observed, but B. odocoilei can only be detected with blood smears or by using PCR. These tests are not normally undertaken, especially if the disease is not thought to occur in the area. Secondly, we have determined this parasite occurs sporadically in the province but to date we have not identified any endemic foci. Since to our knowledge B. odocoilei can only be transmitted by Ixodes scapularis, a tick not native to Saskatchewan, it raises the question of how these animals are becoming infected. It is likely that B. odocoilei infected I. scapularis ticks are being transported to Saskatchewan on migratory birds. Previously researchers have shown that between 0.35 and 2.2 % of migratory birds carry these ticks, which translates to between 50 million to 175 million Ixodes scapularis ticks being dispersed across Canada each spring by migratory birds. The sporadic occurrence of B. odocoilei infections in Saskatchewan cervids has interesting parallels to the sporadic occurrence of Lyme disease in the province, another disease that requires Ixodes scapularis for transmission. In this latter case the ticks present on migratory birds are infected with Borrellia burgdorferi , the bacterium responsible for Lyme disease.

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Disease underreported in Canada, expert says

Published on September 14, 2011

Ashley Thompson

Lyme disease is difficult to detect, dangerous if left untreated and commonly misdiagnosed.

It’s also striking close to home.

Heather Carter knew little about Lyme disease until she realized she was experiencing the same symptoms as a friend being treated for the bacterial infection that is transmitted to humans through blacklegged tick bites.

Both women, middle-aged Ardoise residents, have been battling extreme fatigue, dizziness, confusion, aching muscles and joints, and a variety of flu-like symptoms this summer.

“It’s not day to day; it’s hour to hour,” said Carter, who no longer drives because she finds it is too difficult to stay alert for an extended period of time.

Carter began taking antibiotics to treat the infection July 28. She did not receive the bulls-eye rash that may appear once someone has been bitten by an infected tick, which makes it easier for doctors to diagnose the disease that has such insidious symptoms it often gets misdiagnosed and left untreated for far too long.

“It’s really quite frightening what can happen if it gets to the chronic stage,” Carter said.

“There are people out there that may have it and not realize it.”

Carter says it is important for people to realize infected ticks are in Nova Scotia. She personally knows of four people in Hants County being treated for Lyme disease.

But, as of Aug. 31, Capital Health Authority spokesman John Gillis said there have been no new cases of Lyme disease reported in Hants County in 2010 or 2011.

Doctor finds statistics misleading

A British Columbia-based Lyme expert, Dr. Ernie Murakami, says relying on reported cases of Lyme disease as an indication of the prevalence of the infection in a Canadian province, or county, can be misleading.

Murakami says there are noteworthy discrepancies between the low quantity of Lyme disease cases reported in Canadian provinces, and the significantly higher number of cases recorded in neighbouring American states.

According to the Communicable Disease Prevention and Control section of the Government of Nova Scotia’s website, 67 cases of Lyme disease have been reported in Nova Scotia since 2002.

Statistics released by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that Maine, the closest American state to Nova Scotia, had 734 confirmed or probable cases of Lyme disease reported in 2010 alone.

Murakami said a comparison of the number of reported cases in Canadian provinces and bordering American states should act as a wake-up call for many Canadian doctors.

“How can you compare single figures versus thousands across the border? I don’t see how the border could make much of a difference,” he said during a phone interview Sept. 7.

Ticks, which are typically found in wooded areas and long grass, have the ability to travel long distances by latching on to larger species, such as birds, deer or mice.

In Canada, Murakami says, patients must test positive for Lyme disease according to an ELISA test — a detection method that he describes as inadequate — before a case is reported to a public health agency.

“We, as Canadian doctors, are doing a great injustice perpetuating a lie that this ELISA test is the golden standard for the diagnosis of Lyme disease.”

Difficult to diagnose

Murakami says the ELISA test periodically produces false negatives, leading medical professionals to misdiagnose patients with Lyme disease and, in doing so, inadvertently prolonging a patient’s suffering.

“The Western blot test is more specific for Lyme disease, but unless the ELISA is positive, it’s not done in Canada,” explained Murakami, noting that he has sent samples to labs in the United States for advanced testing, only to realize the ELISA tests interpreted in Canada produced inaccurate results.

“We, as Canadian doctors, are doing a great injustice perpetuating a lie that this ELISA test is the golden standard for the diagnosis of Lyme disease.”- Dr. Ernie Murakami

“It’s so frustrating for me to see some people sort of slipping through the cracks as far as the diagnosis of Lyme goes, and this is why I’m dedicating my whole life just to try and educate,” he said.

Murakami, a retired family physician who was awarded Clinical Associate Professor Emeritus status at the University of British Columbia, travels throughout the country lecturing at group functions designed to inform the general public, and any health professionals who will listen.

In his presentations, Murakami discusses the importance of treating Lyme disease on a clinical basis upon identifying the symptoms, rather than waiting for the results of an ELISA test to return from the National Microbiology Lab (NML) in Winnipeg.

A directive released by the Public Health Agency of Canada Feb. 25 stated that 24 false-negative results had been returned from the NML, out of about 1,557 samples tested. The misdiagnosed patients were spread throughout five provinces.

“When someone shows symptoms of Lyme disease and might have been exposed to the ticks that carry it, guidelines recommend that physicians treat the illness, even if it has not been confirmed with laboratory testing,” the release stated.

“All laboratory tests have a margin of error, which is why physicians are encouraged to follow the recommended treatment guidelines and treat patients they suspect may have Lyme disease with antibiotics, even without the results of lab tests.”

Living life Lyme literate

Murakami says general practitioners must treat severe cases of Lyme disease with high levels of antibiotics for longer periods of time than the standard two to four weeks that is recommended for infections identified in the early stages.

“We, as professionals, have to get together… and talk about Lyme disease, and learn,” he said.

“It’s really a struggle to try to get people on board.”

Murakami, founder of the Dr. E. Murakami Centre for Lyme, says he has a better understanding of Lyme disease than most people, but he is often hastily dismissed by medical professionals that are hesitant to change how they diagnose and treat it.

“I’ve treated over 3,000 directly, and about 4,000 indirectly through other doctors and specialists,” he said, adding that some physicians still consult him for advice.

If left untreated, Murakami says, Lyme disease can attack every organ in a person’s body. It is commonly misdiagnosed as heart or mood disorders, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, ALS or lupus.

Murakami says he has cured people who have been left disabled for years by the debilitating disease, and restored their bodies to good health.

“I have so many happy people telling me what I’ve done for them,” he said.

Murakami will be visiting the Basinview Drive Community School in Bedford at 7 p.m., Sept. 19, to speak about Lyme disease prevention, the proper way to remove a tick, diagnosis methods and treatment options.

The visit to Nova Scotia, Murakami says, is part of his endeavour to promote Lyme literacy from coast to coast.

“I won’t stop.”

To learn more, visit Murakami’s website at, or the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation’s website at

Map of Lyme disease risk in the U.S.
For three years, more than 80 tick hunters combed sites throughout much of the U.S. with corduroy cloths to trap the insects. They were on the lookout for the black legged tick Ixodes scapularis. It is the main carrier of the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
This new map reflects their findings and pinpoints areas of the Eastern United States where humans have the highest risk of contracting Lyme disease.
So far in Canada, Lyme disease has become established in parts of southern and southeastern Quebec, southern and eastern Ontario, southeastern Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as well as much of southern British Columbia.
Source: American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Jean-Luc Giroux- 26 years old, from Victoria BC- his journey with Lyme. This video takes you through it… Canada to US…highs n lows..WATCH IT..GOOD VIDEO…and Thankyou for it, Jean-Luc, very much!!

Another Canadian BC Lyme journey

This story is not going to be your average love story. This is a story of great pain, sickness, tolerance, patience, hope, faith, and triumph. Meet Justin and Christa, a couple that has grown stronger through very trying circumstances.

See full story and Video’s here:

Jan 18, 2012

WHITBY — The last place Lesley Barnes expected her son to be put at risk of contracting a serious illness was at his school.

But that’s exactly what happened on Nov. 23 when Jack, 8, was bitten by a tick in a field near Julie Payette Public School on Garden Street in Whitby.
“I knew it was a tick as soon as I got up close to it,” says Ms. Barnes, who was volunteering in her son’s class when she noticed a bump on the back of his neck after recess.

See full story:–boy-bitten-by-tick-in-field-near-whitby-school

Health & Medicine / Infectious Diseases
Top 100 Stories of 2011 #27: Babesia Parasite Taints the Blood Supply?
Blood transfusions have infected 159 patients with the malaria-like parasite.
by Linda Marsa From the January-February special issue; published online January 5, 2012

A report released earlier this year confirmed something that has increasingly concerned public health authorities over the past decade or so: In the last 30 years, blood transfusions caused at least 159 cases of babesiosis, an emerging infectious disease that is normally transmitted by ticks. And the risk may be increasing because the majority of these incidents—77 percent—occurred between 2000 and 2009. Twenty-eight of the patients died soon after their transfusions, and in many cases, the infection may have contributed.
Babesia, a malaria-like parasite that infects red blood cells, “has become the most frequently reported infectious agent transmitted by blood transfusions in the U.S.,” says Barbara Herwaldt, a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who was lead author on the report. And these numbers may represent a small fraction of the actual cases, because babesiosis is often missed or misdiagnosed as malaria or flu.
Once known as Nantucket fever because some of the first cases were reported on the Massachusetts island, Babesia can cause such flulike symptoms as fever, headaches, chills, and drenching sweats. It can be treated with antibiotics. But the tickborne disease can become quite serious or even fatal for patients with weak immune systems—like neonates and infants, the elderly, or people without a spleen—causing anemia, organ failure, and death.

Case in point, I had a follow-up at the doctor from the infectious disease office last week. I had some questions.

Our conversation went like this:

Me: ”Now that I have been treated for Lyme disease, what are the chances I can get it again? Am I completely immune to it?”

Doctor: “I don’t know.”

Me: ”Oh. How many people a year in Ottawa are infected with Lyme disease anyways.”

Doctor: “I don’t know.”

Me: “Okay.”

Doctor: “So listen. If you have any other symptoms, it’s important you come see us immediately.”

Me: ” What symptoms should I be looking for?”

Doctor: “I can’t tell you that.”

Me: “Okay. I’ve been doing some research online. I’ll just use that as a guide.”

Doctor: “No, you should never trust anything you read on the Internet about this.”

Me: “…..”

To sum it up, I have to be on the lookout for symptoms the doctor won’t tell me about, and I can’t use the Internet to help me. So if I get a fever next month, is that a symptom of Lyme disease, or do I have a basic fever? I don’t know, and I don’t think doctors in Canada know either.

Published Friday, December 17,2010
By Erin dwyer for the Telegraph-journal

HAMPTON – The town is looking to follow the lead of neighbouring municipalities that have banned the feeding of deer.

Councillor Robert Doucet motioned to have town staff investigate the possibility of creating a bylaw much like the communities in the Kennebecasis Valley. Both Quispamsis and Rothesay have enacted ones that would see residents fined for feeding deer.

“I think we need to come up to speed with Quispamsis and Rothesay,” Doucet said. “I recommend staff do some research on other municipalities and come up with a recommendation.”

It’s not the first time the town has talked about dealing with its deer problem.

See more here:

written by Dr. C. Ben Boucher, BSC, MD

What has happened over the past 20 years in the United States, and for a shorter time in Canada, regarding Lyme disease reminds me of what I have experienced in both wellness and chelation therapy. The hesitancy to diagnose and treat, the development of overly strict guidelines, and the intimidation of those who who suspect and would like to treat infections is like déjà vu.

This presentation is intended to inform the public, physicians and media about what I have learned regarding tick-borne diseases. My education has come from articles, books, a workshop by ACAM, and a conference by the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS). More importantly, my education has resulted from listening in great detail to many patients whose lives have been affected by these infections

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By Sara Ross, The Packet & Times

“If diagnosed (with Lyme dis-ease) right off the bat, it would have been two weeks of antibi-otics and everything would have been fine,” Raven said.

Instead, she faced two years of hell.

Shortly after the bite, the first symptom set in: fatigue.

“Before that I was a really, really active person. I walked the dog three times a day, played indoor soccer, mixed baseball,” Raven said. “I can’t do that any-more.”

Then the blackouts started.

“I could be walking from one room to the other and the next thing I know, I’m laying on the couch,” Raven said.

She couldn’t remember simple things and was unable to form full sentences.

She dry-heaved constantly

Read more here:

Published Wednesday June 30th, 2010
New Brunswick is one of a handful of areas listed on Canada’s watch list for Lyme disease hot spots.

Jacqueline Badcock, a zoonotic diseases consultant with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, displays some of the information being distributed by the Department of Health to warn people about the threat of Lyme disease. She says there’s been an increase in the number of ticks submitted for testing in the past couple of years. The Public Health Agency of Canada has labelled the province as an area where the risk for exposure to the disease is high because the ticks that transmit Lyme disease are known to be established here.

The national agency is also keeping a close eye on parts of southern and southeastern Quebec, southern and eastern Ontario, southeastern Manitoba, Nova Scotia and much of southern British Columbia for the blacklegged ticks that can carry the Lyme disease-causing bacteria.

“(New Brunswick) is on the list because there’s a confirmed area – Millidgeville is a confirmed endemic area for Lyme disease – so there’s a reproducing tick population,” said Dr. Nicholas Ogden, director of the Zoonoses Division at the Centre for Foodborne, Environmental and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, a division of the Public Health Agency of Canada in Ottawa.

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Lyme disease is called the great impostor as it is often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed as some other condition. I feel certain there are many people who may fall into this category here in Pictou County. For more information check out the web site
If our pets can have Lyme why not us? Ticks are not fussy who they choose for a blood meal.
This is a growing problem that needs to be recognized; education is the key. How can you do something about something you know nothing about?

How the health care system has failed them. CHEK News Vancouver Island, BC Canada. Interview with Jay McQuhae regarding his daughter Marie battling Lyme Disease while they battle the road blocks in our healthcare system. After chartering a private jet they have now left Canada for her to be treated by a Lyme specialist in Northern California

See Video:


MONTREAL – In late July 2002, Westmount resident Maureen McShane was doing some weeding at her cottage in St. Donat.

“I reached behind my knee to wipe some sweat off of my leg when I felt something behind the knee. I pinched off a tiny object, about the size of a poppy seed, and it fell out of my fingers into the dirt.”

Thinking nothing of it, she continued working in the flower bed.

“That day in the garden, was to become the start of my descent into … a living hell,” the 56-year-old physician said.

“About two weeks later, I awoke with a horrible pain in all my joints. I had neck stiffness, and my muscles hurt. Six weeks later, I had facial and eye twitching and a number of other odd symptoms. It only got worse from there and I soon had chills, sweats and brain fog. I couldn’t think clearly and lost my memory moments after I said something. I couldn’t sleep.”

By Robert Galbraith, Special to the Gazette   May 9, 2010

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Ticks can attack moose in droves, draining their blood and possibly killing them.

Marie McQuhae Lyme Disease –