In response to the growing threat of Lyme Disease in Canada, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands, today introduced a Private Members Bill to create a National Lyme Disease Strategy.
The bill calls for a national conference of public health officials, researchers, and patient advocates to be convened as a first step in developing a Canadian National Strategy for diagnosing and treating the disease.
“Scientific studies have been warning us that with climate change the number of vector-borne – birds, insects – diseases is on the rise. Lyme disease, spread by certain types of ticks, is one of them,” said May.
“I have many friends and constituents who are living with this terrible disease. We need to make absolutely sure that all Canadian doctors are equipped with the tools and knowledge to effectively diagnose and treat patients suffering from Lyme. ”
Lyme Disease is the name given to Borrelia burgdorferi (and recently other Borrelias) and co-infections. Early diagnosis is critical, yet it remains poorly understood in spite of its growing prevalence and serious consequences, including recurring attacks of arthritis and neurological problems.
“Tragically, because we don’t have consistent and effective guidelines for testing in order to reliably detect the various types and strains of Lyme Disease, there is too often a failure to diagnose sufferers,” May pointed out.
“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.
“Some patients are dependent on such medicine for life. This bill is aimed at ending this kind of neglect.”
At a time when many US States have tackled this urgent issue head on, it is ironic that Canada still downplays Lyme Disease and clings to outdated standards for diagnosis and care.
The Green Party Leader thanked the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation for its effective work. CanLyme, a national research foundation for tick-borne infections, also provides counselling and support to the hundreds of Canadians refused clinical diagnosis annually. www.Canlyme.org