Change needed to deal with Lyme Disease 'crisis' in Canada
Celine Moreau, CTV London
Published Tuesday, June 4, 2019 2:31PM EDT
Lyme Disease affects thousands of Canadians - thousands of Canadians who feel left in the dark as they fight for better diagnosis and treatment.
Brandan Barnett’s life was turned upside down six years ago when he contracted Lyme Disease.
“It’s been a nightmare, it’s definitely been a nightmare,” says his father Dan Barnett.
Dan and wife Lisa have watched their son’s health decline, so much so he hasn’t been to school in six years and has a list of debilitating health issues.
“He has lots of pains and aches and insomnia and sinus problems and gut problems and the list goes on and on,” Dan says.
That’s why the Barnett family is speaking out. To raise awareness and push for change when it comes to Lyme Disease, a disease Dr. John Scott has spent close to 30 years studying.
Scott, a researcher in Fergus, Ont., has been recognized nationally and internationally for his multiple studies surrounding ticks and Lyme disease.
“There’s not just one or two ticks that are vectors in Canada there are at least six that can bite humans and transfer the infections,” he says.
Scott tracks tick activity across the country, especially here in Ontario where he says ticks that carry the Lyme infection can easily be found across the province, including in the London area.
“We have a wildlife rehabilitator in St. Thomas and she sent me a lot of ticks from that area and we had a lot of different ticks that were testing positive.”
But despite his years of research, even winning a Governor General’s award for his work, Scott believes the medical community isn’t taking Lyme Diseases seriously enough.
“We’ve got a health care crisis right across Canada concerning this problem and we have to get the physicians up and running and knowledgeable about this disease.”
London West MPP Peggy Sattler agrees, saying her party continues to push the provincial government for changes when it comes to diagnosis and treatment for Lyme Disease.
She says change is necessary, “So that people don’t have to leave the province in order to access the health care professionals that have that knowledge we should have that knowledge.”
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care says it has been working with the federal government on new initiatives surrounding Lyme Disease.
In an email statement to CTV News the ministry said, “Lyme Disease can be difficult to diagnose as its symptoms are often similar to those of other illnesses. The science and clinical management of this complex illness continues to evolve.
“The ministry is continuously engaging with the medical community to promote improved diagnosis, care, treatment and support for people living with Lyme Disease.”
But for those suffering with Lyme Disease, like Deb Crunican, change can’t happen soon enough.
“It’s been a very insidious bacteria that affects your brain, your heart, your muscles and your joints and so many areas of your body that there’s really not a quick fix.”
Crunican started a support and action group called Living with Lyme, London & Middlesex.
“We want to make a change in this. This is not a situation that’s getting any better in our county and there is so much denial out there. So from a local perspective we want to raise awareness to Londoners that there is Lyme and we don’t want anyone to be told there isn’t.”