NEW GLASGOW - Brenda Sterling-Goodwin is on a mission – a mission to educate the community and beyond about the risk of Lyme disease.
It’s not a new teaching plan for her, but she’ll continue until she runs out of students.
On Saturday, she took her lesson to the farmers market, collecting donations and teaching others what to do if they are bitten by a tick, carrying the disease or otherwise.
“The secret is to get treatment early,” she explains.
Goodwin wasn’t so lucky.
The New Glasgow woman went misdiagnosed when seeking doctors in Nova Scotia, until finally, test results from the United States confirmed what she already thought.
She believes she’s had the disease since 1997, and contracted it while working at a veterinary clinic.
As shoppers picked up their local groceries for the week, Goodwin told anyone who lingered at the community table about the prevalence of the disease in Nova Scotia, the problems with testing, and the best ways to remove a tick.
“Every school should have a tick removal device in their first aid kit,” she suggests.
Six areas in Nova Scotia are known to be at higher risk for blacklegged ticks that carry the bacteria that can cause Lyme, one of them being Pictou County.
The Department of Health and Wellness says 154 cases of Lyme were reported in 2013 alone, compared to 171 cases from 2002 to 2012, attributing the jump to expanding tick populations and growing awareness of the disease.
Goodwin is partly to blame for an increased understanding of the disease.
Her friend, Jill Clausson-Munro, can attest to that.
Goodwin’s advice has led to her husband seeking antibiotics for the disease twice, ensuring it didn’t become chronic.
Goodwin also brought her message to Elizabeth May, federal Green Party leader.
At the time, Goodwin was the first person May had met with Lyme. After encountering many more in Western Canada, she introduced a private member’s bill in Parliament, seeking a national strategy for combating the disease. It’s now on its second reading in the Senate.
“We have an epidemic of Lyme disease.”