Summary and Opinion on Bill C-442, “An Act respecting a National Lyme Disease Strategy”
Lyme disease (borreliosis) can be contracted in any part of Canada through migratory birds that transplant ticks randomly. The ticks themselves are establishing populations more and more frequently across Canada with ever increasing rates of infection with Lyme disease. A national strategy to develop an appropriate response clearly needs to be put in place. Bill C-442 compels the federal government to include representatives of the patient groups along with their experts and the medical community, in developing a made-in-Canada strategy for Lyme disease. This is long overdue.
Research results from the Public Health Agency of Canada have caused the agency to drastically alter their forecast, which now states 80% of Canadians will be living in fully endemic areas for Lyme disease in just 7 years time.
At present there is no strategy in place in Canada that includes the victims and those who help them. Victims of any disease are the ultimate stakeholder in any relevant policy.
National reporting of cases has been in effect since only 2009 and is very questionable in its ability to truly measure the prevalence of borreliosis in the human population due to the type of tests employed by laboratories Canada wide. These tests are limited to only one strain of one species of Lyme bacteria despite requests from victim groups and experts to incorporate multiple strains in the tests, similar to what several United States and European independent labs do.
These independent labs, certified and accredited and run by PhD immunologists and microbiologists, have far better results in terms of patient outcome. CanLyme has seen this time
and time again over the past 9 years. Last year Health Canada acknowledged that the existing two-tier test for Lyme disease cannot be used to reliably detect acute Lyme infections, and should never be used to rule out Lyme disease.
The recent revisions of annual Lyme disease incidence in the U.S. from 30,000 to 300,000 cases underscores the likely vast under-diagnosis of Lyme disease here in Canada. Canada’s National Microbiology Lab agrees that there is a disease explosion but continues to rely heavily on policy imported from the United States.
Bill C-442 compels the federal government to include the representatives of the patient groups as well as the medical community to develop a made-in-Canada strategy for Lyme disease. This is a positive development.
The national strategy will start by convening a conference with all stakeholders within 6 months to :
1) enhance data collection for tracking, including incidence rates and economic impact (many
large employers of outside workers are already adversely affected)
2) establish guidelines for prevention, diagnostics and treatment
3) create standardized educational material
4) publish a report on the national strategy within one year on a government website
This is a Bill that all parties should support. The issue crosses all party lines… what is done now will impact each of you, your children and grandchildren and all of your constituents.
The Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation urges your support for this bill.
For more information, visit canlyme.org or contact
Jim Wilson, President
Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation