OPINION: Lyme science isn’t settled
Patients forging path of 1980s AIDS activists. They should be heard.
MARY BETH PFEIFFER
Published March 29, 2019 in The Chronical Herald
Four decades after ticks sickened thousands and fomented controversy in the United States, Canada has a unique and precious opportunity.
It has the chance to get it right on Lyme disease. It can challenge the truisms that have shaped a diagnosis and treatment regimen that leaves many ill.
So far, Canada seems inclined to follow America’s dogmatic — and outdated — path.
Take the case of Sue Faber, a Burlington, Ont., mother and nurse whose belated Lyme diagnosis raised questions that no one in authority cared to answer.
Faber, it turned out, was infected not with the typical North American Lyme bug but an exotic European species. People travel to, and are bitten in, tick-riddled places, as a young Canadian girl was in 2007 in France.
But then Faber’s 11-year-old daughter also tested positive for the European species — without having travelled to Europe. The result suggested she was infected in utero, a phenomenon reported in many studies and that was briefly added last June to the World Health Organization’s updated list of diagnostic codes.
Mary Beth, I am from NL and was also infected there during early childhood which was more than 50 years ago. After receiving my diagnosis in 2011, 45 years after I was infected, I began to do my own research on the ticks found on migrating seabirds. I found studies dating back to the 1980’s which proved that seabirds, particularly Puffins, were found to be carriers of the European strain of Lyme. NL is home to the largest population of migrating seabirds in North America, and have been migrating for hundreds of years, and yet NL Public Health continues to postulate that until recently, and due to climate change, there was little to no risk of contracting Lyme Disease in NL. I am baffled as to why Governments & Public Health Agencies continue to deny the science! I highly doubt that ticks drop into the Atlantic Ocean before the birds nest in NL.
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