Thursday, June 1, 2017

-Alberta Health relies on people to submit ticks found on themselves or pets to monitor their presence in the province.---------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.-----------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.----


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.
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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:

http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/one-in-five-albertans-could-be-at-risk-of-lyme-disease
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.
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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:
http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/one-in-five-albertans-could-be-at-risk-of-lyme-disease

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
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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.

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Julie Ali · 

So if 1/5 Albertans who are bitten by a tick at risk of getting Lyme Disease why then is the system missing these cases? Why are we being told by Alberta Health folks that there are no cases of Lyme Disease originating in Alberta? Why also do we have a doctor who tells us that he has treated 100 cases and has a waiting list of 200 more folks to review?

http://edmontonjournal.com/.../alberta-doc-pushes-for...

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.
*******************************************************************

There seems to be a discrepancy between the Lyme disease experts and the folks in the health system. This discrepancy is noted by the patients who seem to be doing the work of raising awareness and getting the government to act. I note their work here:

https://www.facebook.com/LymeDiseaseAssociationOfAlbe.../...
Lyme Disease Association of Alberta - LDAA
and here:
https://www.canada.ca/.../lyme-disease-canada-federal...
Lyme Disease in Canada - A Federal Framework

It might be useful for public health officials in Alberta to do some work in this area to clarify the data and perhaps setting up an action plan:

https://www.alberta.ca/.../directorysearch/goaBrowse.cfm...

Grimsrud, Karen, Dr. Chief Medical Officer of Health
Lavoie, Martin, Dr. Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health
Klein, Kristin, Dr. Deputy Medical Officer of Health
LikeReplyJust now



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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?


Very curious.

When I am curious I like to find out more about this disease.

Here is the official line from the folks at Alberta Health:

http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/albertans-asked-to-submit-ticks-to-aid-provincial-monitoring-efforts

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.

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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:

http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/alberta-doc-pushes-for-broader-guidelines-to-pinpoint-lyme-disease-as-tick-fears-rise

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.
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.


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Linda Laidlaw

At the Conference to Develop a Federal Framework, Dr. Gregory Taylor Chief Public Health Officer for the Public Health Agency of Canada stated that current blood screens for antibodies are difficult to interpret "at the best of times.... Everyone agrees that we have to have better laboratory testing." Alberta uses the same poor screening tests. The cost of not diagnosing Lyme and tick borne illness is hefty for the province -- my daughter has never had a positive Canadian test and so her 'undiagnosed illness' results in many trips to specialists, hospitalizations and tests for rare genetic conditions she does not have. She was everntully diagnosed with Lyme disease in the US after Alberta Health gave up on her, and treatment for Lyme miraculously helped her for that 'mysterious neurodegenerative illness'. At the conference there were 100 other patients, including a good number of Albertans, presenting with similar stories of misdiagnosis in Canada, at huge costs to the Canadian health care system and worse for the patients themselves.
LikeReply11May 23, 2016 10:04pm
Katara Colls · 

So true! I've been diagnosed with CFS, which I've had symptoms of for about 2 years, and they are getting worse over time. I suggested to my doctor that I be tested for Lyme, as I have all the symptoms and had been camping/hiking near the southeastern border of AB only about a month or so before getting these symptoms. He refused, and so have 2 other doctors I've seen.

Because sending me to various specialists, repeated doctor visits with no answers, and having to go on long-term disability cos I'm unable to maintain a reliable work schedule is so much better than just getting the freakin' test done, right?
I mean, even if I don't have it, it'd at least be ruling something out in a relatively simple manner.
LikeReplyAug 11, 2016 12:33pm
Chris Powell · 

Looking at the 81 black legged ticks submitted & 9 that tested positive for borrelia is indeed a very high ratio and cause for concern. Instead of negating the numbers, public health in cooperation with research scientists needs to do more active surveillance and obtain the true incidence in each province. 
The standard test is in desperate need of improvement and has denied thousands of patients access to care. 
Dr Hawkin's approach looking at symptoms vs flawed tests is indeed the way forward. 
Enough of heads buried in the sand across our country, let's get on with the task of preventing Lyme disease through increased education of the public and especially the medical community, active surveillance, & providing treatments instead of dismissing and ridiculing patients. Thanks to Susan McInnis and to Dr Hawkins fighting on behalf of Canadians.
UnlikeReply5May 24, 2016 2:41pm
Julie Ali · 

Part of the problem may be that diagnosis of Lyme Disease may result in increased costs for the system and so the government at all levels simply ignores the problem.
If this is the case, then this isn't a very satisfactory way of dealing with a public health problem.

If doctors in Canada are not diagnosing the illness, then families have to travel outside of Canada and bear the costs of the diagnosis and treatment elsewhere.

There needs to be studies done on this illness and then the scientific data will result in the requirement for government to both diagnose and treat appropriately. Until we have the medical data, unfortunately the citizens will Lyme Disease will have to keep slogging at getting the information out to the public. It is very unfair in my opinion.
LikeReply1 hr
Lars Lang
Recent published papers by Dr. Kim Lewis, Dr. Eva Sapi, Dr. Ying Zhang and Dr. Stephen Barthold have proven that borrelia burgdorferi is a chronic infection, caused by dormant persister cells and biofilms. We need legislation in Canada that will allow doctors to treat this chronic illness longer than 30 days.
UnlikeReply5May 24, 2016 4:22pm
Jill E Kerney · 

I agree wholeheartedly with Dr Taylor. We are wasting precious time for the patients travelling to specialists and having MRI cat scans ect. Still not coming up with diagnosis. Better testing would quicken treatment and save medical costs and save human suffering. If you have not suffered Lyme or watched family member suffer, how can you possibly say our guidelines are sufficient.
LikeReply7May 24, 2016 10:31am
Andrea Lefkó · 

"The blacklegged tick, which can transmit Lyme disease to people, is not established in Alberta."
"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." Linda Trefiak White
UnlikeReply3May 24, 2016 12:54pmEdited
Louise Consterdine




In my opinion-just collecting ticks by citizens and submitting them to AHS is not very proactive.  

http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/albertans-asked-to-submit-ticks-to-aid-provincial-monitoring-efforts

Albertans asked to submit ticks to aid provincial monitoring efforts

Published on: May 21, 2017 | Last Updated: May 22, 2017 5:49 PM MDT
Black-legged ticks
Black-legged ticks POSTMEDIA
Albertans who discover ticks on themselves or their animals are being asked to submit the bugs to help the province’s monitoring program for the bacteria associated with Lyme disease.
The government says previous testing has found little risk of getting Lyme disease in Alberta, because the types of ticks that carry the bacteria do not have well established populations in the province.
Nonetheless, the government has kept up a monitoring program that was expanded in 2013 to include ticks found on people and in the environment.
“Thanks to Albertans who have submitted ticks, government has been able to monitor what types of ticks are in the province,” Dr. Kristin Klein, deputy medical officer of health for Alberta Health, said in a written statement.
“Although the risk of getting Lyme disease in Alberta is very low, I encourage Albertans to keep submitting ticks they find so we can continue to assess this risk.”
Those who find ticks can submit them to an Environmental Public Health Office, a First Nations health centre or a physician, while ticks discovered on pets or livestock should be submitted to a veterinarian.
Alberta Health has posted instructions online on how to safely remove a tick.
A total of 2,781 ticks were submitted to the monitoring program last year. Just 34 ticks — or about 1.2 per cent — tested positive for the Lyme disease bacteria.
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.
kgerein@postmedia.com


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