B.C. must act on Lyme disease recommendations

Publication Source: Victoria Times Colonist
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Author: Gwen Barlee

Two weeks ago, something remarkable happened. Dr. Robbin Lindsay, a research scientist with the Public Health Agency of Canada, said he feared a “disease explosion” in regards to Lyme disease, a serious tick-borne infection now found throughout southern Canada.

Climate change has created more hospitable habitat for ticks that carry Lyme disease and, increasingly, infected ticks are found in higher numbers and in areas they weren’t found before.

Lyme disease is a serious infection. If a person bitten by an infected tick is treated promptly and robustly with antibiotics, the disease can be stopped in its tracks. However, if the disease is left untreated or misdiagnosed, the bacteria moves quickly out of the bloodstream into joints, cartilage and even into the brain, becoming an entrenched infection that can leave people in wheelchairs.

Given the dearth of political leadership by the B.C. government, it was welcome news that Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May introduced a private member’s bill, C-442, in June of this year calling for a made-in-Canada strategy on Lyme disease. Working closely with the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation, the bill calls for greater awareness and improved diagnosis and treatment of this debilitating illness, not only in B.C. but right across Canada.

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