May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Pictou-Advocate-opinion

To the Editor:

Every season is tick season. No tick is a good tick. During the month of May we focus on Lyme disease awareness, as the problem is growing and expected to increase by 30 percent this year in some areas. The problem is not just Lyme but the many co-infections carried by the blacklegged tick. The Borrelia bacterium has also been found in other species of ticks as well as fleas, mosquitoes and flies.

It has been five years since MP Elizabeth May put forth her Private Members Bill C-442 to develop a federal framework for Lyme disease which was passed in 2014; we are still waiting for the framework. In the mean time more people are sick often with undiagnosed or misdiagnosed conditions and are seeking help south of the border.

The ticks can be carried by birds and deposited almost anywhere. Deer help transport the ticks and deer are everywhere. It is not uncommon to see them on Temperance Street or crossing Abercrombie Road.

Trying to avoid being bitten by a tick is essential; as is awareness and knowing what to do if you, your child or pet are bitten.

Daily tick check for all if you have been in an area where there may be ticks. Walk in the centre of trails and try to avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. People have been bitten in their own yards.

Proper dress is helpful. Wear closed-in shoes and cover up, wear light coloured clothing and tuck your pants into your socks. Use a repellent; something that contains picaridin is a good choice as it has been shown that DEET is not good at repelling ticks. There are natural tick repellents such as vinegar and some essential oils, rose geranium, yarrow, lavender, eucalyptus and others. Natural Edge, medicinal herbalist can be found at the New Glasgow Farmers Market on Saturday mornings selling a tick repellent that is very effective. Nothing is 100 per cent so it is important to check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks.

What if you find an attached tick? DO NOT put anything on a tick such as dish soap, alcohol and a hot match to name a few things people have used, or twist the tick. Carefully and slowly pull straight up to remove the tick with fine point tweezers or use a tick removal device. The Tick Key is available at Pharmacy First in Stellarton as are repellents containing picaridin. CanLyme has complete tick removal kits available on line at https://canlyme.com/ as well as a wealth of information concerning Lyme.. Now that the tick is off what do you do with it? It can be sent to Mount A where there is a research project for identification and testing, if it is a blacklegged tick. https://www.mta.ca/Community/Research_and_creative/Tick_and_Lyme_disease_research/Tick___Lyme_disease_research/

There are numerous signs and symptoms for Lyme which can make diagnosis difficult. If you develop flu-like symptoms and or develop a rash these are signs. It is important to contact/see a Lyme knowledgeable medical professional and discuss possible treatment.

There is an event in Halifax, VOCAL, Voices Of Canadians About Lyme June 3 from 12 noon – 5 p.m.; at Ondaatje Hall, Dalhousie University, Halifax. Check out the FB page or if you would like more information e-mail Donna Lugar donna.lugar@ns.sympatico.ca. Some of the speakers will be: Andrew Hebda, Zoology Curator at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History; Dr. Rade ND; Dr. Ben Boucher, retired MD; Bob Giguere, IGeneX California, USA; Dr Richard Dubocq MD, Maine, USA and others.

VOCAL events will be happening in various parts of Canada with the largest in Ottawa.

Education is key!

Brenda Sterling-Goodwin
New Glasgow