May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Opinion

To the Editor:

We are about to start another month as the COVID pandemic rages. However, there is another epidemic/pandemic lurking in the background — Lyme disease. Once again, during Lyme Disease Awareness Month, Lyme advocates are trying to increase awareness of this vector-borne disease.

Although May is when there is the most awareness, ticks can be active any time of the year, when temperatures are above 4 degrees Celsius. Therefore, year-round vigilance is important.

In the past, and sometimes even now, it has been said that Lyme is hard to catch and easy to treat, yet the opposite can be true. Nova Scotians are entirely at risk now, with areas of greater concentration of ticks that can potentially be carrying diseases, such as Lyme. However, it is important to be aware that a tick can transmit more than Lyme. There are a number of other things that have been found in ticks in Nova Scotia. These co-infections can make a diagnosis and treatment even more challenging.

Early diagnosis and treatment is essential in order to effectively eradicate Lyme and co-infections. If the infection continues too long without adequate treatment, it becomes more difficult to cure and can become a lifelong problem for some people.

If you find an attached tick on you or your pet, it is important you remove it properly. I recommend saving the tick and placing it in a baggie in the freezer with date and where/when you were bitten. If symptoms develop or just for peace of mind you can send the tick for testing. The tick can be sent for testing at the Lloyd Tick Lab (https://www.lloydticklab.ca/tick-testing.html).

There is a need for health care professionals to be better educated as Lyme should be a clinical diagnoses, supported by testing. Present testing is not 100 per cent accurate and doctors should tell their patients that a negative test does not mean they do not have Lyme, especially if they have symptoms and have been in an endemic area, which is ALL of Nova Scotia.

The problem is such that it is not just wooded areas and long grass to be concerned about; ticks can be found in your own yard.

There are more and more dogs contracting Lyme, so why not people? I know of situations where both dog and owner have Lyme.

Please take precautions and stay safe. Education is key!

Brenda Sterling-Goodwin

New Glasgow