Dear Saskatchewan MP’s:
I am writing to you today regarding the Lyme disease epidemic spreading through our country, and through our province. The existence of Lyme disease in Saskatchewan is currently controversial, as the mainstream medical community denies that ticks carrying the Lyme bacteria, borrelia burgdorferi, are present in our province. This is simply not true. There are many Saskatchewan residents living with Lyme disease, who contracted this debilitating illness right here in our province.
Saskatchewan physicians still reply upon the “tell-tale” signs of Lyme, which are no longer accurate indicators of the illness. The presence of the bulls-eye rash for example, appears in less than half of confirmed Lyme patients. This means that a staggering 50+% of Lyme patients are being dismissed simply because they do not display a rash. Another alarming statistic is that over 50% of patients with confirmed Lyme disease do not recall a tick bite. Many ticks that transmit the borrelia Lyme bacteria are in the larval or nymph stage and can be the undetectable size of a poppy seed. (Source: www.ilads.org)
Lyme disease is an insidious illness, as it mimics the symptoms of many other illnesses such as Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, ALS, Parkinson’s, etc. There are currently no blood tests that can confirm such conditions such as MS, Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue syndrome, yet these conditions are common diagnoses in our province. There is a blood test for Lyme disease, yet Lyme is rarely considered as a possibility, or even as a condition to be ruled out when a patient complains of the symptoms that these illnesses all have in common.
Interestingly, Saskatchewan has an unexplainable high rate of MS patients. I posit that some, if not many, of these MS patients are misdiagnosed Lyme disease patients. If this is indeed the case, the ramifications could be severe. Especially considering the strong medications many MS patients are prescribed.
Lyme disease is no doubt difficult to diagnose; however Saskatchewan patients who request the blood test for Lyme disease are either dismissed by their physicians or given the outdated ELISA blood test, which has been proven to be as accurate as a coin toss.
The Western Blot test has a much higher efficacy rate than the ELISA test. However, there are no labs in Canada that test for multiple strains of borrelia, which is one reason for such a high number of false negatives. Private labs in the United States, such as Igenix in California, are able to provide more accurate results, as they test for multiple strains of borrelia, leading to a higher number of correct diagnoses for Lyme disease.
Saskatchewan residents currently have no access, nor provincial health care coverage, for the Western Blot Lyme test. Saskatchewan currently has no ‘Lyme Literate’ physicians who are trained by ILADS (the International Lyme & Associated Diseases Society), the global leader on diagnosing and treating Lyme. Saskatchewan residents have to travel out of province to Alberta or to the United States to get proper health care for their illness. Patients are forced to pay out of their own pocket for every related expense to diagnose and treat Lyme disease. These costs are financially crippling.
Saskatchewan residents who have received a positive Western Blot test by out-of-province ‘Lyme Literate’ doctors are treated with skepticism, condescension, and even hostility by their local GP’s, neurologists, and other medical specialists. GP’s, in particular, try to convince their patients that they are simply depressed & that their symptoms are all in their head while pressuring their patients to go on anti-depressants. Patients who are persistent about their Lyme diagnosis are often sent for psychiatric assessment. This is abhorrent maltreatment by the medical community.
This past May 2016, a Lyme Disease Conference was held in Ottawa. There is a bipartisan panel of MP’s who are currently working on a federal framework for our nation’s Lyme pandemic. Canada’s chief public health officer has been quoted as stating that the cases of Lyme are expected to rise into the tens of thousands in coming years. This should concern all Canadians, and we need our Saskatchewan politicians to facilitate the change our health care system needs to deal with this debilitating disease.
My request is for you, my Saskatchewan MP, to become engaged in this issue. Please advocate for more research and awareness. We need better testing, and we must empower our Saskatchewan physicians to take their patients seriously when symptoms of Lyme present, rather than dismissing their claims and referring them to psychiatry. If there is any involvement to be had with the development of the national framework for Lyme disease, I hope you will pursue it.
I am a Saskatchewan resident who is living with Lyme disease; I contracted this illness at Cowan Lake, Saskatchewan. Through social media and by raising awareness through my personal blog (www.MariLyme.com) I have found it startling how many Saskatchewan residents I know (or who has a relative) that has Lyme and who are disabled by this illness.
Lyme disease is a real risk for Saskatchewan residents. It is time for our politicians to take action. Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.
**Please copy and email this letter to your local MP. To find the email address for your area, click here **
Thank you for your continuing support for Lyme disease!!