Spring 2015 Northern Rockies ‘tick season’ media coverage ~ patients still note room for improvement

One of many Lyme-related, broad scale commonalities in the Northern Rockies is that if and when Lyme disease is reported on, it is most often accompanied by the declaimer that Lyme is not present or not a concern in the region.  It is often stated that people should be careful of other tick born illnesses, or careful of Lyme when they travel.

This commonality stems from a larger, more dangerous, and more problematic commonality: the assertion by states, provinces, and relevant agencies that Lyme disease is not present.  This remains the case despite positive cases contracted in the region.  Even when these cases are followed up with phone calls from health agencies, patients are consistently reporting that their cases still somehow do not make it onto the map, and their areas remain unacknowledged (view our recent post regarding the Bitterroot study for a recent exception).

As patients, we are grateful when time and effort is given to discussing Lyme disease, because no matter what the ‘official’ status of our areas, patients and doctors need to be better informed for the purposes of prevention, early diagnosis, and timely care.

With that said, it remains very difficult to hear the disclaimers that still accompany most stories.  For those of us that contracted Lyme in the region, it is incredibly disheartening and insulting.  For all of us, having contracted it here or elsewhere, we just plain know too many people and too many overall reasons why this is not a justified position for our respective states, provinces, agencies, and media to be holding to, with so much contrary evidence available.

At the very least, there has been considerable uncertainty for decades or longer that has warranted a different set of statements as well as questions.

Each of the following stations we thank for discussing Lyme to at least some extent, but we heartily hope that uncertainty will be addressed in future stories, although evidence and patient accounts supporting the presence of Lyme and additional related strains or illnesses not yet identified would be even better.

The news director of at least one of the stations below has been responsive to correspondence and plans on further coverage of Lyme disease late spring or early summer, which we heartily applaud. We hope other stations will also follow suite.

We realize that there are limitations on what can be stated prior to health agencies updating their public information and distribution information, but they should also be stating the inherent uncertainty in their distribution estimates, as well as the growing body of contrary evidence.

This is no longer a matter of opinion.  Uncertainty is inherent in any estimate or modeling, particularly in the absence of direct surveillance efforts (such as tick surveys), and it should be stated appropriately for the protection of public health.

Please share more links if you have them, more will be added if applicable.

April and May 2015 stories, most accurate listed first

These are stories that did not discount the presence of Lyme or at least emphasized uncertainty or the uncertainties as expressed by patients.

ND, Newspaper Article:

Prepare yourself and animals for tick season

By Melissa Anderson, Cavalier County Republican 4/25/15

Ticks can carry a multitiude of diseases including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMS), Tularemia, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, and the most well-known Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is most commonly carried by deer ticks, which are in plentiful numbers in this area.

“Wood ticks are seasonal; deer ticks are not. The number of ticks depends on how much rain there is and how warm it is,”  Dr. Nathan Kjelland of Golden Valley Veterinary Clinic in Park River stated.

Assoc. FB Post: Unknown (thank them, please, if you find one)

ND, TV News Story:

Tick Season Returns to Valley

MT, TV News Story:

VIDEO: Lyme Disease warning

by Giovanni Yanez, KHQ Local News Producer May 11, 2015

The warm spring weather may feel great, but in some parts of the country, it also comes with a health concern.  It’s the time of year when people should be checking themselves and their pets for ticks that can potentially carry Lyme Disease.

Assoc. FB post: Unknown

Room for improvement regarding distribution

MT, TV News Story:

Health officials provide safety tips for tick season MISSOULA COUNTY

KECI Andrea Olsen May 8, 2015

Officials say the parasites that carry Lyme disease aren’t found in Montana, but the Montana ticks carry other illnesses.

Associated FB post: Link too far buried to retrieve, though we believe it is still posted.

MT, TV News Story:

Rocky Mountain Laboratory still at forefront of tick disease research

KPAX 5/18/15 Dennis Bragg

Today, problems like lyme disease are creating new health concerns domestically and overseas. And while those aren’t a hazard for us here in Montana, RML research is helping find solutions.

Assoc. FB Post: HERE

MT, TV News Story:

Ticks still pose hazards for Montana residents, although threats haven’t changed much

KPAX 5/19/15 Dennis Bragg

But research hasn’t shown local evidence of other diseases causing problems elsewhere, especially with scary critters like these massive specimens from Africa.

“You know, I think every year we’re going to continue to see new viruses, new bacteria, maybe new protozoa discovered in ticks,” Schwan said.

Assoc. FB Post: HERE  

*Also browse blog posts from spring that included additional articles, such as this Hungry Horse News article and this article about a patient in BC.

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