Lyme disease might be the real culprit
By: Melissa Martin, Winnipeg Free Press, from April 15th, 2010
Fact: Manitoba has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the country.
Or do we just think we do?
In a recent thesis, Winnipeg researcher Kathleen Crang found that some Manitobans diagnosed with MS and other chronic conditions may actually be suffering from an unwelcome visitor: the borrelia bacteria, a tick-borne “biological evil genius” that causes Lyme disease.
“If I knew someone with MS, I’d be saying, ‘let’s look at those questions,'” said Crang. “If their MS is coupled with heart problems, or skin rashes, or rheumatological involvement, there might be some question as to why.”
After all, we’re talking about a bug dubbed “the second great imitator.” (Syphilis is the first.) Tests for Lyme disease can be unreliable; many of the disease’s 75 known symptoms are shared by a host of neurological conditions. Case studies have even found that Lyme can produce lesions on the brain like those seen in MS.
That in itself isn’t breaking news. Crang’s thesis, titled Knowledge and Perception of Lyme Disease in Manitoba: Implications for Risk Assessment, found numerous reports in Europe and the United States of Lyme disease being initially misdiagnosed as everything from MS to ALS and fibromyalgia.