It seems likely to me at least that there are cases of Lyme Disease originating in Alberta that are not detected by the system using current tests or protocols. It's imperative that Alberta Health do the research to first determine the incidence of the spirochete in the population of ticks in AB and then do the follow up work in the patients to develop broad parameters to catch all cases of Lyme Disease. I mean if you use too narrow parameters you're going to miss cases and why not simply widen the parameters so that afflicted patients can get the care and treatment they are entitled to and deserve? Why are citizens going out of Canada for diagnosis and treatment? Would it not be cheaper for the system to develop protocols for these patients so that they can access services in Canada or could it be that exclusion of these patients occurs to save the system money? It's time for the provincial and federal governments to work together on combining the research with the facts of patients who have illness that requires follow up by the system.
What is interesting about this article is that the scientist debunks the official line of Alberta Health folks who tell us that there have been no cases of Lyme Disease acquired in Alberta.
More likely says this scientist -that there have been cases-but they haven't been picked up:
If this is the most reasonable situation -that we have Lyme disease in ticks in Alberta then why has it taken so long for there to be any sort of program to follow up on the incidence of tick borne diseases?
Who knows? I tend to think that in Alberta, you are always asked for the numbers of cases and then when the system indicates that there are none originating in Alberta-that the interest of bureaucrats is nil. Meanwhile put a pseudo-science project before the powers that be and you get $14.2 million allocated to Pure North Foundation for no deliverables that I can detect.
Here is the article that is interesting:
Q and A: One in five Albertans bitten by ticks at risk of Lyme disease, says University of Alberta expert
Published on: May 31, 2017 | Last Updated: May 31, 2017 9:19 PM MDT
Lyme disease in Edmonton.
Janet Sperling talks about the increase of ticks in Alberta and Lyme Disease as a result and what residents can do for safety and prevention.
University of Alberta entomologist Janet Sperling says one in five Albertans bitten by ticks this summer could contract the potentially debilitating Lyme disease. Sperling, a board member of the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation, is studying the different types of bacteria that ticks carry. The federal government this week announced a $4-million investment in Lyme disease research.
We spoke to Sterling about tick safety and what Albertans need to know. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
What should Albertans be aware of about ticks heading into these warm summer months?
They should remember that up until fairly recently, we didn’t even know we had ticks that we needed to worry about here in Edmonton. If you’re out walking and you see something that looks like a tick and it’s crawling on you, the first thing to do is just get it off. The only way it’s going to transmit the disease is by actually biting you and ticks take a while to kind of warm up and start biting.
Why is Lyme disease becoming more common in ticks?
The tick itself is becoming more common and that’s partly because we used to have much harder winters. We’re finding that about one in five have Lyme disease and that’s in our area. So there are some areas, like the area around Winnipeg, where maybe half of the ticks have Lyme disease. We’re not at that point here in Edmonton, but certainly one in five is a very reasonable number.
What should Albertans do for tick safety as a precaution and then if they believe they have been bitten?
If you find that you’ve been out camping and you’ve done a tick check, you’ve gone for a wonderful hike and you come back and you find this thing and you say, ‘Oh wow, I think it’s a tick.’ The first thing is, it probably is. Don’t say, ‘Oh no, no, this is Alberta, we don’t have ticks, don’t worry about it.’ Take it seriously. Try to remove the tick as quickly as you can because most of these diseases take a certain amount of time to actually pass into you.
Have there been recent cases of Lyme disease being found in Alberta?
Lyme disease is definitely diagnosed in dogs and definitely found in ticks, there’s no question. That’s not controversial at all. What’s controversial is that the doctors will tell you that there’s never been a case of a human beings having caught Lyme disease here in Alberta. And I find that pretty unlikely. I think there are quite a number of people who have had Lyme disease that they caught from a tick bite here in Alberta; it just hasn’t been counted by the official statistics as an actual case of Lyme disease.
You have a scientist telling us that 1/5 citizens bitten by a tick could get Lyme Disease. Then you have Alberta Health folks telling us that there are no cases of Lyme Disease contracted in Alberta but still if you are bitten, please send your ticks to be verified for the spirochete. Then we have another medical professional tell us that he has reviewed 100 cases of Lyme disease to date in Alberta with a waiting list of 200 patients. Doesn't this seem like there are two camps of information here?
I tend to think it is impossible that we would have no cases of Lyme disease originating in Alberta. I mean if there are ticks, there are spirochetes and why would human beings in Alberta be free of the possibility of acquiring spirochetes from ticks in Alberta? We're not immune from infection. So I think Dr. Sperling is correct to say that Lyme Disease contracted in Alberta just hasn't been detected by the system.
Then this raises another question. Why haven't the Lyme Disease cases originating in Alberta not being detected? Could it be that there aren't proper detection methods? Could it be that doctors don't know enough about this illness to identify it? Could it be that this disease is misdiagnosed? Could it be that treatment is mucked up?
When I am curious I like to find out more about this disease.
Here is the official line from the folks at Alberta Health:
The province said 88 cases of Lyme disease have been reported to Alberta Health in the last 26 years, though all of the cases were acquired while travelling outside the province.
So the public health officials disagree with the front line researchers and medical staff. This disagreement needs to be resolved by serious science and not mumbo jumbo chatter.
I'd suggest that they do some tick collection, analyze the spirochetes found in the ticks and then check out the human beings going to see doctors--like Dr. Ralph Hawkins here:
Alberta doc pushes for broader guidelines to pinpoint Lyme disease as tick fears rise
Published on: May 23, 2016 | Last Updated: May 23, 2016 9:44 PM MDT
Susan McInnis, pictured in Calgary, Ab., on Saturday May 21, 2016, had a hard time getting her Lyme Disease diagnosed but is now fully recovered. LEAH HENNEL / POSTMEDIA
An Alberta doctor is concerned Canada’s guidelines for diagnosing Lyme disease are too narrow, leaving many undiagnosed and suffering.
Dr. Ralph Hawkins, the site lead of general internal medicine at the South Health Campus Hospital in Calgary, has treated more than 100 patients for Lyme disease, and has a wait list at least 200-long.
Currently, the standard Lyme disease diagnosis is based on two blood tests and a particular set of symptoms. But, Hawkins’ takes an alternate approach, basing his diagnoses on tests and a broader set of symptoms.
Hawkins shared his concerns at a conference earlier this week in Ottawa, a first step in developing a federal framework on Lyme disease. He wants the new framework to expand the diagnosis guidelines.
Susan McInnis, who started the Lyme Disease Association of Alberta in 2013 to spread awareness of the disease, also attended the conference. She too wants broader guidelines established.
“As a former patient, it’s quite…it’s alienating as a patient when you’re kind of lost in a health care system within which you can’t really find answers,” said the Calgary woman.
It took three years and eventually travelling to the United States to get her diagnosis and by that time she was “highly debilitated,” said McInnis, who has since fully recovered.
“I developed a balance disorder, I lost control of a lot of the right side of my body,” she explained.
But there is debate within the medical community about whether broader diagnosis guidelines are needed.
Alberta’s deputy chief medical officer of health, for instance, doesn’t think they are.
Dr. Martin Lavoie noted doctors can already make a diagnosis based common symptoms, such as the “bulls-eye” rash, in the early stages of the infection. However, in later stages the two-test system used in Canada should confirm that a patient has Lyme disease, he said.
Alberta Health reports on its website that there have been 63 cases of Lyme disease reported to the department between 1991 and 2014. None of those cases contracted the disease in the province, said Lavoie.
While the department is automatically notified when Albertan cases of Lyme disease are confirmed through standard testing, it would be up to the doctor to report any cases diagnosed based on symptoms, said Lavoie.
Alberta Health cautions that people who go to alternate laboratories in U.S. to get diagnosed should have it confirmed in Canada, as some do not use recognized tests and have been found to result in false positives.
The blacklegged tick, which can transmit Lyme disease to people, is not established in Alberta, Lavoie said.
“But we know that over time, we might be seeing some pockets, some areas, where the tick can establish itself just due to climate change over time,” he said.
Alberta Health relies on people to submit ticks found on themselves or pets to monitor their presence in the province.
In 2014, 1,376 ticks were submitted to the department’s tick-monitoring program. Eighty-one of those were blacklegged ticks and nine tested positive for the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease.
Given the potential severity of Lyme disease, McInnis wants the province to undertake a more active tick-monitoring program.
The passive program is designed to trigger a more active investigation if for example there are a number of ticks submitted from a specific area or if they get young ticks, which may suggest some ticks have established themselves in an area, said Lavoie.
That hasn’t happened yet, but to practice, a team was sent to do some active surveillance in a few areas in Edmonton, where a few more ticks have been found a bit more often, said Lavoie.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a serious infection. A person can get Lyme disease if they a bitten by an infected blacklegged tick.
What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
Symptoms can vary between people but may include: a round, red rash centred around the tick-bite, flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, fever, chills, headache, weakness, spasms, numbness, swollen lymph node, feelings of fogginess, dizziness, nervous system disorders, arthritis or arthritis-like symptoms, or abnormal heartbeats.
How is Lyme disease treated?
Most cases of Lyme disease are treated with two to four weeks of antibiotics. More severe cases may require longer rounds of antibiotics.
How can you avoid ticks?
Wear closed-toe shoes, long-sleeves and pants, and light coloured clothing (so you can spot ticks more easily) in grassy or wooded areas. Check yourself for ticks after being in those areas.
How can you remove a tick?
Alberta Health suggests that if a tick is attached to your skin, use tweezers to gently grab hold of it at its mouth and head as close to your skin as possible and pull it straight up. To submit it for testing put it in a clean container with a damp cotton ball so it doesn’t dry out.
Where can you submit a tick for testing?
You can submit a tick at an Alberta Health Services Environmental Health Office, a First Nations health centre, or if the tick is found on a pet, at your veterinarian.