May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month


To the Editor:

May is Lyme Disease Awareness month. There is much yet to be understood and discovered about Lyme, ie Borrelia, and co-infections carried by ticks and other vectors.

A vector-borne illness, ie Lyme, could be the root cause of a condition you may have been told you have. Lyme is called the great impostor and can mimic many health concerns. There are many conditions with symptoms but no known root cause, theses are called idiopathic. Just because a disease has a name it does not mean that people know what causes it. The name often only describes symptoms.

There are over 300, here are some of them: Alzheimer’s disease, early ALS, arthritis, ADD and ADHD, autism, Bell’s palsy, brain tumour, chronic fatigue syndrome, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, headaches (severe), rheumatoid arthritis , juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, memory impairment, MS, optic neuritis, Parkinsonism, psychiatric disorders like bipolar and depression, Raynaud’s syndrome, seizure disorders, sleep disorders, thyroid disease, Tourette’s syndrome, urticaria and vertigo. I suggest anyone who is sick and has been given no reason or various reasons should consider being checked for Lyme and possible co-infections.

The result of being undiagnosed or misdiagnosed is that chronic Lyme is a debilitating, disabling disease that affects every organ and system of the body. There is no quick fix but many are able to get some degree of relief with ongoing treatment.

It is important to be aware and to do everything you can to avoid being bitten by a tick. Proper dress, cover up and tuck your pants into your socks. Wear a long-sleeved shirt that is tucked in and a hat. It is wise to apply a tick repellent and on return to the indoors to check your clothing and do a body check. A lint roller on clothing can help pick up ticks. It is also wise to toss clothing into hot dryer for about 15 minutes to get any missed ticks.

Do daily “full body” checks for ticks; ticks attach themselves to the skin so they can be found and removed, which usually prevents infection if this is done early enough. Check your children’s head/hair as if you were looking for lice. Remember, the ticks can be very small so look carefully. It has been said the tick needs to be attached for 24 to 36 hours but current research shows that time required for transmission can be much less. It has been said that there is really ‘no safety window’. It would be difficult to say exactly how long a tick may have been attached; they do not have a time clock. It has been observed that other diseases that ticks transmit can be transmitted almost immediately. It has been found that the tick can start to transfer the bacteria as soon as it bites the host, little or no time lapse required although the longer it is attached the likelihood of infection increases.

It is a good idea to save the tick and to seek medical help if you are bitten. The risk of ticks is everywhere in the province with some areas of higher concentration of ticks.

May is Lyme Awareness Month worldwide to remind people that spring is here and the ticks are out, to help promote preventative measures that can be taken against this steadily growing problem. In the afternoon on Saturday, May 5, there will be a Lyme Information Session (VOCAL) in Ondaatje Hall at Dalhousie University. Mary Beth Pfeiffer, journalist/author, will be the keynote speaker and she has written a book, Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change, newly released. Other speakers include Dr. Vett Lloyd from Mount Allison University , researchers from Dalhousie, T. Caddell and Mandy Mitton as well as Andrew Hebda of the Museum of Natural History . If you have any questions contact Donna Macpherson Lugar donna.lugar@ns.sympatico.ca or Brenda Sterling-Goodwin blackberrybrenda@hotmail.com.

It is time for change, all must be aware.

Education is KEY!

Brenda Sterling-Goodwin

New Glasgow