May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month:
Lyme Disease Resource Book for Canadians
By Helke Ferrie,
Vitality Magazine May 2010

It is preposterous, but Canada fell through that infamous rabbit hole.  Thousands of Canadians, whose numbers are growing annually, are now at the mercy of the policies of our medical Wonderland, where things have become “curiouser and curiouser”, as Alice would say. In this Canada Wonderland we find a Lyme disease policy which bears no resemblance to clinical observation, little to scientific research, and it ignores the fundamental principles of public health. Infectious diseases are very bad news – they are like an uncontained house fire.  Ironically, they also are the one universal emergency modern medicine really knows how to treat and prevent. Triumph over infectious disease is the basis of modern medicine’s fame.  It is, therefore, astounding that Lyme disease is virtually ignored in Canada.

Lyme is one of the nastiest infectious diseases capable of causing enormous financial damage to any healthcare system.  Over the past three decades, a medical-ethical cesspool has emerged characterized by competing interests involving especially the American private insurance companies, Big Pharma, and some medical associations with certain prominent members willing to work for the benefit of those industries, instead of their patients. This mess spilled over into Canada from the US, where Lyme disease first broke out in 1975 in the little town of Lyme in Connecticut. Lyme disease itself is very old; archaeological evidence goes back some 50,000 years.  However, the currently evolved Lyme-causing bacterium is more severe and almost always appears almost always in company with many other co-infecting bacteria.

I spent the last two years editing a book on Lyme disease in Canada, available now, just in time for May  – the month the US government declared Lyme Disease Awareness Month.  I would like you to become aware of what my co-authors and I have learned about this infectious disease and how this epidemic is being mismanaged by our public health authorities, our Ministers of Health, Health Canada, and those medical regulatory authorities who control doctors’ licenses.  This book presents the science, the politics, the treatment and testing protocols that actually are documented to work, and ways in which you can help to stop this unfolding disaster.

Ending Denial – The Lyme Disease Epidemic – A Canadian Public Health Disaster is written by patients, doctors, researchers, politicians, and me. Each section of the book deals with one area of concern and then adds the representative research papers whose findings are beyond doubt. We also included the most successful and science-based treatment protocols as well as an entire section on the most reliable testing – none of them are available in Canada!

The hottest topic in this book is the Canadian patient experience: that  nightmarish runaround caused by  doctors denying Lyme; then it tells of the ordeal of doctors in danger of losing their licenses because they do diagnose and treat Lyme patients regardless of that official denial  – and they do so with astonishing success when daring to use international protocols; included is a legal the opinion on the way Canada literally breaks federal and provincial law with its refusal to acknowledge the existence of appropriate tests and treatment protocols; we discuss the potentially disastrous consequences this somnambulant attitude presents for our national blood supply, which is once again endangered -  this time not by AIDS or Hepatitis C, but by the bacteria which cause Lyme: Canada does not use the international donor questionnaires to rule of Lyme infected donors.

Conservative MP Terence Young, one of Canada’s true public guardians (see my article on his latest book Death by Prescription, Vitality May 2009) wrote the foreword in which he explains the underlying medical corruption.  One of British Columbia’s former NDP MLAs, David Cubberley, provided a whole chapter on the Lyme mess in that province.

These authors explore Canada’s failure to recognize, leave alone deal appropriately, with what the World Health Organization and public health authorities world-wide have declared to be the fastest growing vector-borne infectious disease in the world. The US Centers for Disease Control confirmed Lyme an epidemic in 2008. The US Environmental Protection Agency and public health authorities provides exhaustive information on prevention and surveillance, and the US Congress and Senate recently provided funds for an appropriate nationwide Lyme policy. Strangely, Canadian authorities imagine that Lyme-carrying ticks that ride on deer, migratory birds, dogs and mice moving over the continent present less of a danger of Lyme when entering Canadian air space.

Interestingly, some of the most important research into Lyme disease comes from Canadian scientists whose work is read and implemented everywhere else but here; their publications started in the 1990’s, some important ones are found in our very own Canadian Medical Association Journal. A couple of the most recent ones on Lyme vectors are included in this book also.

Whatever awareness exists in Canada about Lyme was generated by patient support groups found now in almost every province. One of the services they provide is to help Canadians find treatment – usually in the US and Europe.  Some, like the national CanLyme, have been working to educate both the public and doctors for over twenty years: that’s not a typo! Canadian medical and public health authorities have been in sleepy denial for two decades and are showing no signs of waking up.  What comes to mind is the announcement made for Alice upon arriving in Wonderland: “We are all mad here.”

Consistent with this logically inverted world is how the formidable resources of the entire public health system were accessed for SARS, West Nile Virus, and the positively ridiculous H1N1 hysteria  (the H1N1 flu was declared a fraud a few weeks ago, following a formal investigation by the European Union’s parliament). In terms of numbers, SARS etc were fleabites compared to what the tick-bite-caused Lyme disease is doing.  The US Centers for Disease Control estimate 200,000 new infected cases occur annually, most near the Canadian border on the East and West coasts.  True, SARS and West Nile virus can kill a person whose immune system is compromised, and that fact is important and requires correct attention and prevention, but consider that unrecognized and untreated Lyme disease usually becomes chronic and then triggers Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple sclerosis, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Scleroderma, ADHD, and infected mothers pass it on through placental blood to their unborn babies or through breast milk later on, causing central nervous system damage consistent with autism. An infected person can pass Lyme on through sexual intercourse and saliva.  The discoverer of the corkscrew-shaped bacterium that causes Lyme, the Swiss researcher Willy Burgdorfer, got Lyme himself through merely skin contact with the urine of Lyme-infected laboratory mice. One Lyme disease researcher refers to this illness as the “poor cousin to the 19th century syphilis epidemic” that devastated entire populations. Among infectious diseases, Lyme is the perfect storm.

If merely 10% of those chronic diseases Lyme can trigger were actually diagnosed as Lyme through the availability of reliable tests and then treated, literally billions of dollars would be saved, to say nothing of preventing  that unimaginable human misery. Indeed, some countries like Sweden actually calculated that cost and acted accordingly – they didn’t fall through the rabbit hole.

Internationally licensed laboratories providing tests specific to Lyme disease in all its manifestations are allowed to be used by Canadian doctors. The Canadian Public Health Laboratory Network issued guidelines in 2006 which “strongly discourage” using any of the more sophisticated and reliable tests available in the US and Europe, simply asserting that they are not reliable – without a single piece of supporting evidence from the literature. Those guidelines only recommend an antiquated 40-year old testing procedure known in the medical literature to produce up to 90% false negative results.  With those kinds of test results generated from coast to coast to coast, we naturally cannot have Lyme in Canada. Perfect Wonderland logic.

Incomprehensibly, the testing situation in Canada is such that not the examining doctor, but anonymous lab technicians (who have never seen the patient and test the blood sample with a useless test they don’t know is useless) inform the doctor on the test report whether this patient has Lyme! After that, no further action can be taken. Behold the awesome infallibility of Wonderland assumptions!

Of course, the denial of Lyme is hotly denied by the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Canada (AMMI) whose spokesperson asserted indignantly in a November 20, 2009, press release, following the recent CTV W5 story on the plight of Lyme patients in Canada, that our doctors are well-trained in recognizing Lyme and treating it. Indeed, what they learn and then dutifully follow, is what is found in the guidelines of the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) whose views on Lyme were the subject of an anti-trust investigation by the Attorney General of Connecticut, starting in 2008, for cooking the evidence, ignoring the medical research that contradicted already entrenched views, finding guideline panel members to be in the pockets of the insurance or drug industry etc. The evidence is extremely disturbing to read and my advice is: pass the Gravol first.

The key problem with those IDSA guidelines, which Canada treats as gospel, and which got the IDSA into trouble with the law and the US government, is their denial of the existence of chronic Lyme disease; refusal to use and recommend the sophisticated reliable tests now available; dismissal of the literature and clinical results that contradict their views; and insistence that alleged chronic Lyme must be (no proof provided) an autoimmune response not treatable by antibiotics. This rigid and clinically and scientifically insupportable stance is very lucrative to the insurance industry. The US has plenty of Mad Hatters, and a great many of them are the source of this controversy. However, in the US patients, doctors and legislators have fought back and even established a top-notch research centre dedicated to chronic Lyme disease at Columbia University and 17 States have passed laws or regulations specifically to protect doctors who treat chronic Lyme patients.

Those IDSA guidelines were set aside by court agreement – something Canadian infectious disease doctors don’t appear to know anything about and Health Canada continues to follow the IDSA guidelines as if nothing happened. Those few that question Wonderland logic are in for a shock.  Any doctor daring to assert, as Alice did to the Duchess, that  “I have the right to think” and trains with international Lyme disease experts, will be given the answer Alice got: “Just about as much right as pigs have to fly.” Prosecution by the provincial College of Physicians and Surgeons, especially in B.C. and Ontario, is the frequent outcome of exercising the right to independent medical reasoning.

Almost daily, I receive calls from Lyme patients, who are desperately looking for doctors. If they have money, they stand a chance at a cure because they can get it outside Canada.  Former BC MLA David Cubberley (now a director of CanLyme) describes this situation chapter 6 in this book: “The simple fact is that we have imported a problem created in the hothouse of free enterprise medicine to the south of us, which combines a policy favorable to private insurers with the settling of scores in disputes between schools of thought in medicine… Canada has … internalized the toxic byproducts of an American dispute over a disease, which in the rest of the world is generally appropriately treated … Here, patients run into a Berlin Wall of indifference and encounter a closed medical mind.  In Canada patients with chronic Lyme either live with severe pain and disability, or they sell their homes, go to the United States and buy access to antibiotics through the private health care market.  What an ugly paradox: denied diagnosis and treatment under [legally compromised] US guidelines in Canada’s public healthcare system, you have to go to the home of private medicine for therapy!”

If you are bitten by one of the 15 species of Lyme-bearing ticks and get sick, you and your doctor are highly unlikely to know what is ailing you.  By the time you are really sick, many diagnostic labels will be tried on you. Canadians who suggest that a Lyme diagnosis should be considered, and hopefully ruled out, will more than likely run into the Red Queen logic who dismissed evidence and asserted: “Sentence first. Verdict later.”  You will be sentenced to chronic life-long illness and often death  because everybody is agreed what the verdict is – Lyme is no problem in Canada.

Alice escapes from that crazy world by a sudden insight.  She tells the assembled court and the Red Queen: “You are nothing but a pack of cards!” It is essential for the health of this nation that Canadians recognize that this Lyme policy lacks substance. That’s why we undertook this book project.

Those insupportable Canadian Lyme guidelines have to be scrapped; they are exclusively based on the legally compromised IDSA guidelines and make no  reference to the international protocols and trivialize especially chronic Lyme conditions. Lab technicians cannot decide what is definitive evidence for Lyme infection. Provincial governments, in charge of health care delivery, cannot be permitted to deny the availability of international protocols. The integrity of our blood supply cannot again be allowed to be in jeopardy. Our doctors must be allowed to think when confronting emerging medical conditions without fear of sacrificing everything, especially their professional integrity. Every family doctor must learn how to recognize and treat Lyme.  This is as basic as washing one’s hands. Canadians must join international efforts to contain this infectious disease and to expect as a matter of course that every spring Lyme-tick endemic parks and areas in the country carry warning and instruction signs.

This book, the proceeds of which go entirely towards Lyme awareness work, will be a useful tool in this necessary and overdue public health campaign. You will learn from it how to protect yourself, your loved ones, and the health of Canada.

Sources & Resources:

Ending Denial – The Lyme Disease Epidemic – A Canadian Public Health Disaster: A Call For Action From Patients, Doctors, Researchers, And Politicians, edited by Helke Ferrie, a non-profit joint project by Kos Publishing Inc and the Lyme Action Group: $ 30 per copy, 50% discount for 5 or more copies plus postage. For orders call 519-927-1049 or FAX 519-927-9542 for information on this book and Lyme politics in Canada, tel. 250-768-0978 to find a Lyme-literate doctor in North America for information on all matters concerning Lyme disease in this hemisphere information, patient support specific to Ontario

For the 2008 multiple award-winning and Oscar-nominated documentary film, “Under Our Skin”, contact

For reliable, internationally verified testing for Lyme disease or call 1-800-538-9820

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