[CanLyme Note: In a quick review of this newly published paper it both gave us hope that progress is slowly being made, and a sense of sadness for the dismissive attitude shown patient groups by the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC) since the late 1990’s. With the formation of the Lyme Borreliosis Society of BC in 1989 by Diane Kindree, patient groups worked closely with Dr. Satyen Banerjee until he retired around 1998 as Head of Vector Borne Disease at the BC CDC. Real progress was being made and it was well known that Borrelia hermsii was a serious concern. Borreliosis in general was a serious concern because it was understood there was too much emphasis on testing only for Borrelia burgdorferi. Borrelia hermsii was only one of other suspects within the genus that were causing serious illness in people throughout BC. Dr. Banerjee was very supportive. Once he retired, despite the many attempts of patient groups to engage the BC CDC in meaningful discussion we were dismissed. This new study, that cites Dr. Banerjee’s work, poses many more questions by what is not said. In 2003, when the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation (CanLyme) was formed Dr. Banerjee eagerly joined the founding Board of Directors of CanLyme where he remained until his passing in 2007.]
Tick-borne relapsing fever in British Columbia: A 10-year review (2006–2015)
A case review of Borrelia hermsii infections in BC indicates physicians outside disease-endemic areas may not be fully aware of the presence of this spirochete in the province.
Background: Tick-borne relapsing fever is one of the oldest tickborne diseases identified in British
Columbia. The causative agent is the spirochete Borrelia hermsii, which is transmitted to humans by
the night-feeding soft-shelled tick Ornithodoros hermsi found in southeastern British Columbia and the
northwestern United States. The identification of this illness is made difficult by the fact that tick-borne
relapsing fever is not a reportable illness in BC and laboratory diagnosis can be challenging. The innocuous
feeding pattern of the vector tick means bites can go unnoticed, while the typical 7-day delay in symptoms
means patients often do not become ill until after they have left a disease endemic area where physicians are
more likely to recognize the illness. Identification and treatment of this illness is important because it can
cause long-term sequelae, including cardiac and renal disturbances, peripheral nerve disturbances, ophthalmitis,
and complications during pregnancy.