Lyme Disease. I have a difficult time thinking of a more contentious health topic. The chronicity of the disease continues to be rejected by most of our medical professionals despite intense pressure from grassroots and non-profit organisations to remain more open minded about the thousands of Canadians suffering with chronic, debilitating symptoms.[i] Patients ask me: “How is this knowledge gap possible? Why aren’t our medical doctors prepared to treat these symptoms?” I have a few ideas.
Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND
KFL&A Public Health reports that in 2013, 23% of the ticks brought in for testing were positive for B. Burgdorferi, the infectious agent of Lyme disease. Our region is considered high risk for Lyme disease. Additional infections carried by ticks (collectively known as Lyme co-infections), were not evaluated. Please educate yourself, friends, and family members about tick-bite prevention and treatment. I’ve thoroughly researched and summarized some guidelines to keep in mind this season:
1. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved clothing with pants tucked into socks, when outdoors in tall grasses and wooded areas so that ticks are more visible.
2. A product containing 30% DEET is officially recommended for adults. For children younger than 12 years, Health Canada recommends using a product with 10% DEET. However, the repelling effects at this concentration may only last for 1 to 2 hours. Alternate approved chemicals for children or sensitive individuals include products with Icaridin (e.g. Avon Skin So Soft, some MEC and OFF! brand products).
3. Non-approved but well researched natural repellants include Lemon Eucalyptus oil (Eucalyptus citriodora), Labrador tea oil (Rhododendron tomentosum), Juniper (Juniperus virginia), and Marjoram (Origanum majorana). These can be mixed in a ratio of 12 parts pure grain alcohol (95% if available), to 1 part oil combination, and applied liberally with a dark glass spritzer bottle over clothing.
The Lyme bacteria, B. burdorfori, is present in ticks in Kingston and area. IGeneX laboratories is an international leader in the identification of Lyme infection, and conducts tests that go beyond the ELISA testing performed by Public Health in Ontario.
Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND
Summer is well underway and these past 4 weeks I’m beginning to address a variety of health concerns with symptoms that are remarkably similar to those of infections transmitted by ticks. Though most people who acquire an infection develop minimal symptoms and resolve the infection for good, this is unfortunately not everyone’s experience. Here are some important things to know about these infections:
1. Lyme Disease is not the only tick-borne illness to be concerned about. In fact, there are many “co-infections” (e.g. Bartonella, Ehrlichia, and Babesia infections), with unique symptoms. An infected person may not test positive for Lyme, but they may still have an active infection by one of these other microbes.
2. Initial symptoms often include flu-like illness, sometimes with
Please download this pdf we’ve created about Lyme disease symptoms, testing, and treatment options: Lyme Disease in Kingston
~ Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND
Understanding tick-borne diseases is not usually on our summer priority list, but times are changing. Ticks infected with Lyme disease-causing bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) are present in Kingston and pose a risk for contraction of serious chronic illness. The Chief Medical Officer of Health in Ontario acknowledges that Lyme disease cases and the number of black-legged ticks that carry the illness are increasing. The illness cannot be diagnosed with lab testing alone and since symptoms vary widely between people, acquiring proper medical help can be difficult. Consequently, prevention and early treatment even before symptoms appear, is critical.
Ticks in Ontario that carry infections are usually reddish brown, 3 to 5mm small, live in wooded areas, and are active from early Spring to late Fall. Infected ticks may transmit bacteria to people through a bite, though most people exposed to these bacteria never contract a disease. Please see below for our Prevention Guidelines for more information on detecting and treating tick bites.
Many of the symptoms health practitioners are taught to look for, such as a non-itchy “bulls-eye” rash, may actually only occur in less than 50% of people with Lyme disease. The high variability of symptoms mimics many other diseases, including Multiple Sclerosis, Bipolar disorder, arthritis, and Fibromyalgia. The great variability may be explained by the bug’s suppression of the immune system, which allows inflammation or other chronic infections to attack the body according to the person’s individual genetic, lifestyle, and environmental exposure history. This change in immune function may also be why people with Lyme disease often develop additional chronic illnesses, including depression, thyroid conditions, and possibly Alzheimer’s or Inflammatory Bowel Disease.