Another Lyme Species Discovered in Canada

Another Lyme Species Discovered in Canada

Canadians with Lyme disease, like Australians, have been ridiculed for decades over the idea that they could contract Lyme disease in a place that doctors insisted it did not exist.

Lyme disease, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, was thought to be only carried by a black-legged tick found in northeastern US.  However as hundreds and then thousands of people suffering with symptoms were left frustrated and ailing without care in Canada, sick Canadians flew to the US for treatment.
CanLyme , the website for the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation, was born to support the sick and suffering, by Jim Wilson who became sick with Lyme in 1991.  The British Columbia resident says his daughter was infected in 2001 after being bitten by a tick  and that the disease claimed the life of his son, who was diagnosed with it in 2002.
At the time medical experts insisted that it was rare to contract Lyme in Canada.

“The only rare thing about Lyme disease in Canada is the diagnosis, not the illness,” Wilson said. “It’s an epidemic and it’s going to be shown as such once testing is brought up to date.”Once found only in Ontario, Lyme-carrying ticks are now found in almost all the provinces. As they continue to spread, medical professionals are increasingly concerned about Canadians contracting the disease.

“The distribution has changed,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Neil Rau told CTV’s Canada AM on Monday.

Rau said the risk of contracting Lyme disease used to be limited to Point Pelee and Fort Erie, near the U.S. border in southern Ontario. Now, the organisms that cause the disease can be found almost everywhere along the border, he said.

Lyme-carrying ticks have been found in southern Quebec, Manitoba, southern New Brunswick, southwest Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and B.C.

“The distribution of the tick and the distribution of the organism is definitely spreading,” Rau said.

Then in early November (2016) the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) confirmed that three ticks collected in British Columbia since June have tested positive for a new species of bacteria closely related to Borrelia mayonii (B. mayonii).
“This is a rare discovery which highlights that our tick surveillance program is working at both a local and national level,” said Dr. Eleni Galanis, physician epidemiologist with the BCCDC. “While further investigation is warranted, the health threat posed by this new species of bacteria is extremely low.”
Borrelia mayonii is a newly-discovered species of bacteria that can cause Lyme disease in people. Until now, it had only been confirmed in the Midwestern United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, six of approximately 9,000 diagnostic samples from residents of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota revealed the presence of B. mayonii.

The fact that new species of Borrelia are appearing seems to only be a surprise to the experts who have argued that Lyme is hard to catch and easy to treat.  Others, like expert Richard Horowitz, claim that there are over a hundred strains in the US and double that world-wide.

Then in Calgary last May, a medical conference was convened to discuss the growing problem of Lyme disease in Canada. For many it seemed a miracle because the existence of Lyme disease in Canada has been disputed by medical mainstream for decades.

“There are challenges related to Lyme disease,” stated Health Minister Jane Philpott, who helped open the conference. “It is spreading, there is no doubt about that, and people have faced challenges sometimes getting early diagnosis and getting the treatment they need.”

In Canada, as in the US, there has been a huge debate over the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease, and the existence of the 25 – 30% of patients who develop a chronic form of disease.

“We, as the medical community in Canada, are failing our patients,” said Dr. Ralph Hawkins, a Calgary physician who acknowledged his views on Lyme disease are “in the minority”.

“What we heard,” said Hawkins, “reflected dismissiveness, clinical arrogance, condescending patient contact, prejudicial treatment and humiliation. It just about brought me to tears.”

Perhaps the discovery of this new “Lyme-like” disease will bring attention to the morphing nature of the bacteria and the very real evidence of a bacterial epidemic.  The clout of Mayo clinic gave credence to something Dr. Masters fought for decades with a barrage of documentation sent to CDC and the Health Institute chronicling a Lyme-like disease (“Master’s Disease) that was eventually validated and called STARI.

But for Canada, those 3 ticks bring validation to a nation. Science is finally verifying what Canadians have known for years.

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