Urgent medical issue needs ticking off

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Centuries ago, the English blamed venereal disease on the French; the French blamed it on the English. Hopefully we’ve advanced somewhat in assessing medical conditions.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is currently trying to advance a private member’s bill through Parliament calling for a national strategy to combat Lyme disease.

A Pictou County connection is that May, who ran in Central Nova in 2008, says her inspiration for this measure came from a New Glasgow woman. Brenda Sterling-Goodwin has regularly submitted letters to the editor describing how this strange affliction slips under the radar in common medical practice. Sterling-Goodwin has the disease herself, but says for years it was misdiagnosed.

Early diagnosis and treatment is key; left undetected, Lyme can have debilitating, chronic health effects. Chances are many people will know of someone who is affected.

First off, thank you to Sterling-Goodwin for her tireless campaign on this issue and for reminders of steps to avoid contacting it in the first place.

People and animals come in contact through the blacklegged tick. Given Nova Scotia has vast areas of woods and wild grass, this tick has a wide-open potential habitat.

Oddly, several years ago this province had a program in place to send any discovered blacklegged ticks for testing. But once it was determined that Lyme carriers were indeed in the area, the testing stopped.

How much sense does that make? Wouldn’t people who remove a tick – from themselves or a pet – be better informed about any need for treatment if they knew that particular insect was carrying the bacteria?

Hence the need for a national strategy.

May, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, B.C., has said she hopes MPs won’t treat this bill with partisan dismissal. In fact, she’s talked to some in other parties who recognize the importance and have voiced support.

We trust our own MP, Peter MacKay, is aware of the urgency of this strategy and prepared to support the bill. He might also have some ability to persuade fellow House members of the importance.

Organizations: Green Party

Geographic location: Pictou County, Central Nova, New Glasgow Saanich-Gulf Islands

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