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Ottawa nurse must go to U.S. to seek Lyme disease treatment

Like most Lyme disease patients in Canada, Dawn Lavarnway doesn’t remember when she was bitten by the tick that gave her the crippling illness – but she knows when she found out Canada’s health system wouldn’t treat her for it.

The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario nurse tried to book an appointment with an infectious disease specialist to get a prescription for chronic Lyme disease because her symptoms have persisted ever since her June 8, 2009 diagnosis. They include fatigue, chest pain, difficulty walking, and mood swings.

In September, she received a letter from The Ottawa Hospital saying routine antibiotics for tick bites is not an option. The hospital said it follows the 2006 Infectious Disease Society of America guidelines, which limits treatment to a maximum of 28 days…..

…. ‘No evidence to support limiting antibiotic treatment to 28 days’: Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation

Jim Wilson, a former Lyme disease sufferer and founder of The Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation (CLDF), has no idea why Canadian hospitals still follow American guidelines from 2006 on how to treat Lyme disease.

“They’re very committed to the United States policy for some reason, rather than setting their own policy,” he told Metro Thursday by phone from B.C. “We’ve tried to interject into the policy-making decisions (with) the patients and their experts’ perspective, but have been refused at each time.”

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  1. It is sad when Canadians cannot get treatment in their own country and are forced to travel south of the border to get help. Dawn is a medical professional, a nurse; do they think she does not have Lyme and is faking it. I know of a veterinarian who had Lyme and just treated himself rather than going through the health care system and is fine today. I am a veterinary technician who has Lyme and travels to the USA for help just as Dawn will and many others do. There are too many in Canada suffering and being ignored and mistreated by the health/illness care system. Education is key! A good man said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela
    Let us work together and bring about change, this is real.

  2. I can relate to Dawn when it comes to Lyme disease in Canada. I’m also being treated by Dr. McShane she is literally giving me my life back. When it came to receiving any help in Canada they wanted to diagnose me with anything but Lyme. I have been in treatment now for seven months and I’m improving. Our Canadian medical system and Government need to become more proactive in this disease and help our future Canadians. As a educator myself I feel that more needs to be done for the future of this country. Imagine the money the government could save if people were actually given the right diagnoses and proper treatment. Could save millions of dollars on healthcare each year.

  3. hi – I’m from upstate NY – and I just wanted to clarify something. Please do not think that doctors here (US) are routinely treating patients for Lyme. In fact, many of they won’t even test us – they think it’s ridiculous. Or they use the useless Lyme test when there is a better one available. A person who suspects they have Lyme must actively search for a Lyme-literate physician and then pay out-of-pocket for it.

    I have two friends with Lyme and the one has co-infections. They have had to travel south toward New York City to get tested and treated by a Lyme disease specialist. I also know of an M.D. who suspected he had Lyme and had to argue with his physician to test properly!!!

    My understanding is that NY is the state with the highest incidence of Lyme but no insurance company pays for either testing or treatment and the medical community barely agrees Lyme is even an issue. They still believe that if you didn’t have a bull’s eye rash, you’re fine – and one course of antibiotics and you’re cured. One is left to wonder why.

  4. Confession – I’m slightly encouraged when members of the medical profession are afflicted with Lyme Disease. Having been referred to as a hypochondriac by my doctor, I’m living in hope that the unfortunate Canadian medical practitioners that contact Lyme Disease will hold more sway with the powers that be than the general populace. It took me 2 years of suffering to be diagnosed by a school teacher. The Igenex clinic in California properly diagnosed me with Lyme. The Healing Arts Partnership in Seattle did a wonderful job of curing me of Lyme.

    Jim Proctor
    Oak Bay, BC

  5. Right now unfortunately, the Corporations are telling the Government what its policies should be.
    I think Mandela would say those who help are walking the highest road.
    As in the second world war there were people who risked their lives to do the right thing for their fellow man. The devastation surrounding the denying of this disease ranks up there with the darkness of man experienced in the world wars.

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