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).
“My family needs me, the world needs me. Please help if you can.”
It takes a lot of courage to ask for help, and it is not something the patients we have met or worked with do lightly or easily. For many, it takes months or years beyond the point of really needing help to finally be ready to ask for it…or, more likely, to no longer have a choice.
Awareness evening to be held in Squamish next week
Kerri Currier / Squamish Chief, June 4, 2015
Squamish is a gorgeous natural playground to raise a family. However, the security I had in nature came to a halt upon learning the reality of Lyme disease treatment in B.C. I presented to the walk-in clinic with half a tick in my arm and was told not to worry about Lyme in the area. I’m now dealing with late-stage Lyme disease, its long term treatment and costs.
Health Canada has confirmed that the southern mainland and coast of British Columbia are endemic for Lyme disease. Many people will never notice they were bit by a tick and erythema migrans rash will show up in less than 50 per cent of people, according to the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation (Canlyme).
The foundation says current testing in Canada misses 62 per cent of Lyme. It should be a clinical diagnosis and it is commonly misdiagnosed.
Via Flo Gardipee (friend and fellow Wildlife Biologist with Lyme):
To all my friends & family, especially fellow biologists and park rangers, that spend time in the outdoors, please take precautions against tick bites. If you find a tick attached to you, remove it and save it to send in for testing, then get to a Dr right away for treatment with antibiotics. Ticks carry awful diseases such as Lyme, Bartonella, Babesia, Erlichia, Rocky Mtn spotted fever, and others.
In April 2010, Angela Daenzer was doing field work as a biologist for the Flathead National Forest when she startled a moose up the Middle Fork. She ducked off into the brush to avoid the angry animal, and while the moose encounter was a bit scary, there were worse things to come.
While hiding in the brush, Daenzer picked up a tick that bit her in the scalp. After a shower hours later, she found the tick and, disgusted by it, she pulled it out of her hair and threw it in the toilet.
Daenzer is convinced that tick gave her Lyme disease, or at the very least a disease very similar to it. Within a week, she became very ill. She got the chills and a sore throat and then what she and her doctors thought was an ear infection and then severe jaw pain.
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.
This graphic by Jill McAllister is extremely meaningful, as it provides information not currently available in terms of geographic distribution of Lyme and Lyme infected ticks.
Some of these locations, although across the border, are not really all the far from where I was bit in 2010 (various maps will be constructed over time). As you will read elsewhere on this site, distribution estimates and maps can be dangerously misleading if they do not depict associated levels of detection effort. As is seen time and time again (with North Dakota serving as a highly relevant example) the areas where we are not finding Lyme coincide with areas where we are not yet, or not adequately looking.
Our very first collective Lyme Disease Challenge goes out to Dan and Tanner and the Ride for Lyme team (aka the Adalaine project), in a location of their choosing as they cross the continent for Lyme patients and their friend!
This challenge includes the patient they ride for that day, IF the patient is well enough. If not, we’ve got that patient covered, as we’ll be doing extra ‘bites’ on behalf of that patient in their honor.
Posted with permission. This is not from the Northern Rockies, but clearly applicable to all of us. Thank you Melissa.
Dear CDC and FDA,
I don’t want to just go away.
I want to live!
I have a lot to offer this world.
I am not just a number or face in a massive population.
I am a mother, daughter, wife, sister, aunt, friend who has a giving heart and creative mind.
My life matters.
I am here for such a time as this.