Lyme disease fears prompt BC government to fund clinic


Lyme disease fears prompt BC government to fund clinic

Vancouver, BC, March 31, 2011 – In response to the release of a confidential government report calling for better treatment and management of Lyme disease in BC the provincial government announced $2 million in funding for a provincial clinical and research study to help address Lyme disease and other complex chronic illnesses.

The critical report, which was quietly commissioned by the Ministry of Health, and delivered in May of last year revealed serious concerns regarding the management of Lyme disease in BC. The report found doctors lacked knowledge, blood testing was poor, chronic Lyme disease patients didn’t receive treatment, diagnostic methods were inadequate and the true incidence of Lyme disease was unknown.

The BC government didn’t act on the report’s findings or recommendations until it was released on Tuesday by the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation and a Lyme disease patient who obtained the report through an FOI request.

“We are happy to see that the government is finally moving in the right direction on this. Had it not been for the pressure brought to bear by the Lyme disease community at so many levels, this excellent report would likely not have been commissioned at all,” said Jim Wilson President of the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation.

The BC government has been under intense scrutiny regarding its management of Lyme disease, a serious tick-borne infection. Patient advocates argue the disease is under-diagnosed and under-reported due to faulty blood tests and doctor ignorance, leaving patients to fend for themselves or pay for treatment in the US. The BC government counters blood tests are state-of-the-art, doctors well-informed, and that Lyme disease is a rare and easily treated condition.

“If the BC government is serious about addressing Lyme disease it needs to implement all of the recommendations from their own report,” said Gwen Barlee a Lyme disease

patient. “The clinic is a small step in the right direction but much more needs to be done before Lyme disease patients receive adequate treatment in BC.”

The report, Chronic Lyme Disease in British Columbia – A Review of Strategic and Policy Issues, was authored by Brian Schmidt, senior Vice-President of the BC Provincial Health Services Authority. The report makes eight recommendations to improve the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease in BC, including “adoption of more advanced technologies that BC could lead the nation in developing,” implementing a range of flexible treatment options for patients, improving the diagnosis and treatment of Acute and Chronic Lyme disease as well as improving public and physician education about the disease.

“From this point forward it imperative that the clinic involve the Lyme disease community. The Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation is asking for an active role in all aspects of the chronic disease clinic to help insure that the two million dollars is used for the best possible long-term outcome of the ultimate stakeholder, the victim. We ask the government to invite the chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia representatives to the table also,” said David Cubberley, Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation Director.

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in North America. The disease takes its name from Lyme, Connecticut, where it was first identified in the 1970s. Lyme disease can become a chronic and serious illness if left untreated so early antibiotic treatment is essential. Untreated, Lyme disease can affect the joints, the heart and the nervous system and is much more difficult to treat. Southern BC is endemic for ticks that carry Lyme disease.

For more information on prevention please visit: www.canlyme.com/lyme-prevention/

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Lyme disease is a serious threat Lyme disease is on the rise in Canada, yet treatment and public awareness are largely inadequate. Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation (CanLyme) is dedicated to raising awareness and promoting Lyme research, education and treatment.

For more information please call:

Gwen Barlee: Lyme disease patient, 604-202-0322 (c) or 604-879-2473 (h)
David Cubberley: Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation Director, 250-818-1129
Jim Wilson: President Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation, 250-768-0978

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