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A tiny Lyme-bearing Pacific black-legged tick on a person's arm.

By Sean McIntyre – Gulf Islands Driftwood
Published: July 04, 2012 9:00 AM
Updated: July 04, 2012 10:07 AM
When Salt Spring’s Terri Bibby noticed a bite that developed a red rash after a hike in 2009, she never imagined that she would find herself becoming part of a major medical controversy, requiring years of expensive medical treatment and having to cope with the life-altering symptoms of Lyme disease.

As in the case of many other Canadians in her situation, Bibby was unable to receive a proper diagnosis because of the medical community’s ongoing discord about the disease’s prevalence, diagnosis and treatment. “There is no Lyme in B.C.,” she recalls being told at the Victoria hospital where she was taken by ambulance.

The introduction of a private member’s bill by Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May on June 21 has offered some hope that others faced with potential infection won’t have to undergo the same sense of isolation and frustration experienced by Bibby and countless others.

“This is the ultimate of non-partisan issues. This is the ultimate of non-geographically limited issues,” said the Green Party of Canada leader, while introducing Bill C-442 in the House of Commons. “We are, in each of our ridings, facing an increasing threat to our constituents and their families from a very tiny threat: a tiny tick that is spreading and spreading and can bring debilitating illness to any one of us at any time.”

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria that is transmitted to humans by ticks, insects that can often be as small as a poppy seed.

May wants to implement a nationwide discussion and subsequent strategy to address the affects of Lyme disease. The proposal, she said, would serve to promote awareness, better diagnosis, offer treatments and examine best practices used in other parts of the world. If the bacteria isn’t detected and treated at the correct moment, the disease’s symptoms can include fever, severe headaches and joint pain, along with other cognitive and neurological debilitations.

“With climate change anticipated to change the number of vector-borne diseases like Lyme disease, development of a formal federal strategy will become a high priority.

“At a time when many U.S. states have tackled this urgent issue head on, it is ironic that Canada still downplays Lyme disease and clings to outdated standards for diagnosis and care,” reads part of a statement released in conjunction with May’s announcement.

“This means that every year hundreds, even thousands, of Canadians either go untreated or are required to go to the United States for treatment where they are prescribed heavy doses of antibiotics not covered by our provincial healthcare plans,” May said.

In Bibby’s case, several trips were made to Seattle and New York state to see specialists and undergo a definitive test that shows she still has Lyme disease after three years of various treatments.

This personal experience encouraged Bibby’s husband, an award-wining documentary filmmaker, to begin work on a film titled A New Lens on Lyme that looks at the latest research on Lyme and associated diseases that are transmitted by ticks.

“The film is science-based,” said Alan Bibby. “It will contain information about the debate in the medical community, but we want to go beyond the rhetoric. The biggest questions involve the reliability of tests, the safety and efficacy of antibiotic treatments and whether the disease-causing organisms can be permanently eliminated. We want to document success stories — those chronic Lyme patients that have achieved a quality of life: what worked for them? We would like something positive to come out of this.”

Bibby has taped local stories and interviewed “Lyme-literate” doctors, specialists and scientists in the United States, where reported cases of Lyme infections are between 20,000 and 30,000 individuals per year. Given that ticks can be found anywhere in the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island, Bibby urges people who spend any amount of time outdoors to inspect themselves for possible bites on a regular basis.

Ticks are best removed by a slow and gentle pull with fingers or tweezers. Specialized tick removers are available through local retailers and people with any concerns can always visit Lady Minto Hospital.

The best way to lower the odds of contracting Lyme disease is through prevention. In addition to regular tick checks, the Vancouver Island Health Authority recommends people walk on cleared trails wherever possible, wear light coloured clothing, tuck shirts into pants and tuck pants into boots or socks, use a DEET-based insect repellant on all uncovered skin, inspect clothing and scalp when leaving tick-prone areas like grassy fields of forests, and regularly check household pets.

Should symptoms like a bull’s-eye rash develop around the bitten area, Bibby recommends people consult a physician and insist upon immediate antibiotic treatment. “Don’t wait for unreliable testing,” he said.

Bibby said anyone who wants to share their experience with Lyme disease is encouraged to reach him at 250-537-8813 or bibby@media-group.com.

Article Link here:
http://www.gulfislandsdriftwood.com/news/161347775.html

frustration: Doctors refusing to diagnose Lyme disease, says Lee Ryder, people forced to seek treatment across border

Lexi Bainas, Citizen

Published: Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Cowichan Valley resident Lee Ryder is calling on provincial health authorities to admit there is a significant Lyme disease problem on Vancouver Island.

Ryder, who is suffering from third-stage Lyme disease, has to go to the United States for treatment and said last week that the pain, the financial hardship and the sheer frustration that has come from years of butting his head against the wall are almost more than he can bear.

Read Story here:

http://www2.canada.com/cowichanvalleycitizen/news/story.html?id=703bea11-524d-4b79-a152-8b2b4355fd12&k=76889&p=1