The Spread of Lyme Disease
|updated December 19, 2010|
The medical world is divided with one group saying that it is rare, easy to diagnose and easy to treat, and the other saying it is a difficult diagnosis because of the negativity of the ELISA test and the lack of medical education of medical students, family practitioners and specialists.
There is an urgent need for making the public and the medical world aware of this since there is an unexplained Lyme denial problem prevalent in our medical association.
I have seen many suffering from arthritis, mental fog, and severe fatigue and most of these patients have gone undiagnosed to the present day. My personal feeling is that there is a high percentage of Lyme and vector-borne disease in these patients who are suffering chronically and resorting to other forms of pain relief such as alcohol, street - and prescribed - medications. Many people are suffering in every walk of life in both urban and rural areas of Canada.
To confirm my belief in the prevalence, please view the following maps of the world, of North America and of British Columbia.
The map below of global prevalence by the World Health Organization reveals the areas in the world that are infested with Lyme disease in red colouring, north and south of the 49th parallel. Note that Alaska, which is more northerly than most of Canada, is completely red, stretching below the 49th parallel and into the United States.
There are two spots on the map that indicate BC and Ontario having recorded more cases, but I believe this is from my testing of patients from American labs and another physician, an infectious diseases specialist, in Ontario who is treating Lyme disease openly.
World Health Organization Global Prevalence Map
Eurosurveillance Global Incidence Graph
International studies of global incidence of Lyme disease per 100,000 population indicates that Canada is 0.115 per 100,000, contrasted with 36 per 100,000 for Czech Republic is which on a similar latitude as Canada.
The next map indicates a sharp demarcation of diminished Lyme disease by the ELISA test and in Canada this represents about 2 cases per million; total of about 80 cases in 2008 as per Public Health Agency Canada, yet immediately across the border 49th parallel there is in the US 70 cases per million which is mathematically an impossibility. There are two explanations: (1) that the Americans are wrong about the statistics from their CDC in Atlanta or (2) more onerous and neglectful, our testing methods are inadequate as are diagnostic acumen by the physicians of Canada.
US CDC Lyme Disease Risk Map
Canada averages about 6 cases per year per province by the ELISA test, yet across the border every north central, north eastern states reports an average of 1,000 cases annually.
There are doctors who vehemently deny the existence of Lyme disease in BC and Canada despite the evidence recorded on 3 charts or graphs of studies done in BC in the early 1990s.
The following is a chart compiled by Drs Satwant Banerjee (BCCDC) and LaVerne Kindree who randomly tested ticks throughout British Columbia and found live spirochetes of Borrelia burgdorferi.
The following chart records the first 8 cases in British Columbia serologically positive by the ELISA and Western Blot test at BCCDC.
Burns Lake, Saltspring Island, Galiano Island, Kootenay Lake, Cortes Island, Oliver, Nanaimo and Agassiz. My first case was #8 in Agassiz in 1994.
The next chart reveals ticks with nucleic acid from Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes found in domestic and wild animals including lizards.
Lyme Disease in the US 2008, source US CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/Lyme/ld_UpClimbLymeDis.htm
The US CDC has recently published 2008 cases of Lyme disease as being 35,198 reported and an astonishing 422,376 estimated actual cases using an error factor of 12x. It is a well known fact that when the US has 422,376 cases then Canada will have approximately 10% yet only 80 cases are reported for the year 2008 by Public Health Agency of Canada. The estimated actual cases in Canada must be over 40,000.
New York and Connecticut report up to 90% of ticks infected which means with almost every tick bite there is a high probability of contracting Lyme disease and/or co-infections. As the world warms with climate change, more ticks will survive. More ticks add to the likelihood of being bitten plus the fact more time is spent outdoors.
The validity of Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) guidelines on Lyme disease has been challenged by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and the IDSA has been ordered to review and revise their guidelines under a new panel. This review panel has until the end of 2009 to render any changes.
The courts in six American states have now legislated, or are legislating, laws that will prohibit the investigation or harassment of all medical doctors who are treating chronic Lyme disease.
The disease started in eastern Canada and spread right across the country and BC represents the latest province to become endemic for Lyme disease. Numbers have magnified tremendously and probably we are now facing about 50% of ticks being infected with Lyme and co - infections.
Awareness of this rapidly growing disease is paramount and the doctors must remove this great divide and the fear of our skeptical peers which prevents the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease early and adequately.
We in the medical profession around the world should be resolving this great divide amicably and professionally ourselves as we have done with all other major infectious diseases in the past. There is no time for complacency as was experienced with the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s and we must prepare for the rapidly approaching pandemic of Lyme disease.
There has been continuing educational program and visits to the MB Health in Oct 2009 and Nov 2010. The greatest progress has been that Mannitoba Health has given a letter to all doctors in the province that the treatment of Lyme disease is on a clinical basis and not on a lab test result. Many cases of chronic LD require long term treatment has also been addressed by MB Health, and not 30 days as recommended by IDSA guidelines. All parks in the province of Manitoba have Lyme awareness and cautionary signs posted. At the last meeting, Nov 2010, the MB Deputy Minister of Health was concerned why doctors were not treating in the province and that people were going to the US. In another case, past Manitoba NDP member was refused IV therapy at the hospital where she was given a requisition by her doctor. She was turned down by a hospital doctor. MB Deputy Minister of Health plans to contact Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons to clarify some of these matters. There has been lecturing to doctors in acute hospitals and at conferences. At one conference Sept 26, of the 120 NDs who attended 26 left their names wanting to learn more about LD. The biggest thing is that they have their prescription writing privileges from the province of BC Dept of Health. There is now a supply of physicians, both medical and naturopathic, available in BC to patients to have treatment in BC, and this includes some other parts of Canada such as Halifax. Two service clubs, one from Lake Echo near Halifax and the Hope BC Lions Club are keen to have the information of the spread of LD made aware to the Lions organization. The Hope Lions Club and the Echo Lake Lionesses and Lions Club want me to speak at their respective provincial annual meetings, one in Halifax and one in BC. These are tentative motions. There appears to be a greater number of patients bringing their stories to the general public through the media. It is my personal wish that the medical profession would get together to resolve this issue.
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How do we overcome the "medical divide" about Lyme disease treatment and epidemiology since it is the patients who are suffering, some of whom have committed suicide because they cannot get medical help? - Dr. Ernie Murakami
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