May 24, 2015
My former (and now future) anti-tick precautions predate confirmation that ticks in western Canada carried the dreaded Borrelia bacteria. Instead, I grew up on tales of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis and other ailments shared by the seed-sized critters. It was only during my last few years in the mountains that Lyme disease loomed locally as a possibility.
I recently met a colleague from those mountain days. He mentioned that several people he had worked with in the 1980s now suffered from unaccounted-for neurological problems, including memory loss, chronic fatigue, muscle wasting and nerve issues.
He speculated about Lyme disease, but didn’t know. He said the acquaintances also didn’t know. Three decades have passed since they spent their summers roaming slopes, exploring valleys and camping in high-mountain passes.
Lyme disease might have existed in the Rockies back then, but remained undetected, undocumented and unknown. The bacteria can incubate for years in some people before causing illness. It’s also possible the illness occurred back then, but lack of awareness and difficulties with diagnosis — which continue today — left it undiagnosed.
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