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LETTER: Lyme disease battle continues

Have you heard of Lyme disease? This is what I ask people as they walk by my Lyme awareness table at farmers markets.

When I first started having a Lyme awareness table many had not heard of Lyme disease; today everyone says they have heard of it or know someone with Lyme disease. There have been many people who are well known speak out about having Lyme disease: Shania Twain as well as Alec Baldwin, Amy Tan, Daryl Hall, Kris Kristofferson, Ben Stiller, Avril Lavigne, Kelly Osbourne, George W. Bush, Debbie Gibson, Richard Gere, Parker Posey and many others. Awareness is growing yet there is still little or no help in Canada.

Nova Scotia has been declared endemic for blacklegged ticks – they do not all carry the bacteria but we are all still at risk. It is important to know that ticks can carry a large number of co-infections thus increase the chances of you getting sick if you are bitten by a tick. There are areas in the province at higher risk and Pictou County is one of them. There is no tick surveillance in Nova Scotia; there is no need, we know they are here and we are all at risk. A small risk is still risk. I have heard that people have found ticks in their yards and houses, one person got a tick while cutting his lawn. The first line of defence is to dress properly, use a repellent and do daily tick checks for yourself, your children and your pets.

I think it is important to have ticks checked to see if they carry Borrelia and co-infections rather than toss them in the garbage. I know of someone this past week with a tick attached who had it removed by his doctor who then tossed it in the garbage and gave him two pills. There is the possibility that the tick was not carrying an infection but if it was this is not adequate treatment.

Dalhousie University is doing a study and they want YOUR ticks – from your pet or yourself. Seal your tick in a baggie (with a damp cotton swab if it is still alive), put it in an envelope and mail it to: Tatiana Rossolimo, Dalhousie University, 1355 Oxford St., PO Box 15000, Halifax, NS, B3H 4R2. Include information on where the tick came from and an email address if you would like to know the results. Please note: they are not able to test specifically for Lyme disease at this time as the study is centred on other findings.

If the tick was on a person it can be sent to Dr. Vett Lloyd at Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB, where ALL ticks are being tested for Lyme. It is not just the blacklegged tick that can carry Lyme. The turnaround time is usually two to four weeks ( It was announced recently about CanLyme establishing a research partnership with Mount Allison.

Lyme is called the great imposter and can mimic/be misdiagnosed for many conditions. Too many people are unaware that the root of their health problems could be a vector borne disease. As I say ‘the Lyme battles continue.’ Education is key!

Brenda Sterling-Goodwin

New Glasgow

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