OTTAWA, June 21, 2012 /CNW/ - The Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation (CanLyme) expressed strong support for a private member's bill mandating a new national strategy on Lyme disease, to be introduced today by MP Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands).
"This bill responds to the failure of existing guidelines to reliably detect and treat Lyme disease,' said CanLyme President Jim Wilson. "Current policies make access to treatment subject to confirmation by a flawed test, resulting in refusal of diagnosis to many people with Lyme."
Lyme disease remains a clinical diagnosis, as stated on the Public Health Agency of Canada's website and in medical literature, as there are no accurate confirmatory tests available for all types and strains of Borrelia.
People contracting Lyme disease in Canada face barriers to its being given due consideration in a doctor's differential diagnosis, Wilson said. "Most doctors don't recognize basic Lyme symptoms, rely on poor tests to detect it, and far too many wrongly tell patients 'there's no Lyme in Canada'."
Lyme disease is the name given to Borrelia burgderfori (and recently other Borrelias) and co-infections transmitted to humans by ticks. Lyme sufferers are required to have their disease confirmed by a two-step test before getting antibiotic therapy, which few ever do (about 140 a year Canada-wide).
Every year hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Canadians are forced to endure the ravages of a debilitating disease because Canada has adopted unduly restrictive policies from the USA. Many people with Lyme are in turn forced to go to the US to be diagnosed and then pay out of pocket for treatment.
May's bill proposes a national conference of public health officials, researchers, and patient advocates as a first step in developing a made-in-Canada framework for diagnosing and treating Lyme disease. The overall goal is a higher standard of care that will ensure prompt detection and treatment.
"People with chronic Lyme disease are typically refused access to antibiotics at present," said Wilson, "leaving them to suffer without therapy or care."
CanLyme's criticisms of the Lyme test were vindicated in 2010 in a report by Dr. Brian Schmidt of the BC Provincial Health Services Authority. Schmidt concluded that the test is 'inadequate' and can't reliably detect acute Lyme infection, making creation of new diagnostic tools the 'first and highest priority'.
Recent peer-reviewed research documents the persistence of active Borrelia infection after early dissemination and short-term antibiotics, making the refusal of antibiotics to chronic Lyme sufferers 'cruel and ludicrous', Wilson said. CanLyme's experience over the past nine years shows that longer term antibiotics do work and lives can be recovered.
CanLyme is a Canada-wide research foundation for tick-borne infections that also provides counseling and support to the hundreds of Canadians refused clinical diagnosis annually. www.Canlyme.org
For further information:
Contact: David Cubberley
BC Director, CanLyme
Phone 250 818 1129
Email [email protected]
Contact: Jim Wilson
Phone 250 768 0978
Email [email protected]