I was saddened that HuffPost blogger Michael Kruse has misrepresented Bill C-442, my private members bill to develop a national approach to the growing threat of Lyme Disease. Up until his uninformed blog, it had been received as what it is -- a non-partisan, evidence-based effort to help thousands of Canadians.
Mr. Kruse has misrepresented the bill in many respects, leaving out most of its key elements, and then claiming the bill “seems to promote the existence of a syndrome called ‘chronic Lyme disease’.” Those are his words, not mine. The term is not mentioned in my bill.
For those readers who may not know about the impact of Lyme disease on Canadian society, its incidence has been spreading. The bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi that causes Lyme is carried by ticks. It was first identified in Lyme, Connecticut, hence the name. As a reportable disease in Canada, it must now be reported by medical professionals to provincial public health authorities, who, in turn report federally. There is a significant reporting of misdiagnosis. As the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia reports:
“Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.”
This range of symptoms can easily be mistaken for other conditions. If diagnosed correctly and early, treatment options work effectively.
The bill focuses on sharing best practices from across Canada. It calls on the Minister of Health to convene discussions with provincial/territorial counterparts, medical health professionals and others with expertise.
The goal is to find better approaches to prevent Lyme through greater awareness, to identify best practices to diagnose and treat Lyme, and research to improve our knowledge.
Since tabling the bill for First Reading in June 2012, my office has been inundated with letters of support. Many are from those suffering the effects of Lyme disease. Many are from Canadians who have travelled to the U.S. to obtain treatment. I have also heard from many Members of Parliament, from all sides of the House, who hope to see it become law.
The bill is also supported by health professionals, such as the College of Family Physicians of Canada. In a letter to me, November 21, 2013, Eric J. Mang, Director, Health Policy and Government Relations, of the College of Family Physicians of Canada wrote:
“The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) would like to commend you for presenting Bill C-442, National Lyme Disease Strategy.
“The CFPC supports further studying the economic and health impacts of Lyme Disease to ensure that Canadian physicians have the necessary tools and knowledge at their disposal. Guidelines produced as part of the strategy should include the input of family physicians and available to all primary health care providers.”
Bill C-442 will be going to Second Reading debate on Monday, March 3, 2014. I hope all Canadians will read the bill, and ignore efforts to distort its very sensible, scientifically sound approach. With non-partisan, and compassionate support, we can get the bill to committee and consider any changes that meet the concerns of all impacted by what can be a tragic illness.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
The Canadian singer revealed that she has been struggling with the disease for almost a year.
The actress, most well-known for her role on "The Sopranos," contracted Lyme disease in 2000. Her feet began tingling and eventually her legs became paralyzed. Doctors were stumped for five days as to the cause, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported. "It was such a life-altering experience," she told the paper. "I realized it could all be taken away in a moment" She recovered completely after taking antibiotics.
In 2007, the annual report on the president's health revealed that in August of 2006 Bush had been treated for Lyme disease. A White House spokesman said the president likely was bitten during a bike ride. He noticed a rash that doctors treated, and he had no other symptoms or any recurrence, according to CNN. "I wouldn't expect any problem at all for the president," Gary Wormser, chief of infectious diseases at New York Medical College and an expert on Lyme disease, told the Washington Post. "He won't be impacted by this infection in the future."
The actress was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2009. "I had the opportunity to approach it both with conventional medicine (antibiotics) and homeopathic remedies and supplements," she said in a statement. "The first round of antibiotics did not destroy all the bacteria and I made a decision not to take them anymore and instead approach it purely holistically -- through the help of my homeopathic doctor who guided me with my diet and gave me the natural supplements to bring my body back to its vitality."
Duo Hall and Oates was forced to cancel performances in 2005 when Hall was diagnosed with Lyme disease, USA Today reported. A publicist told E! Online that Hall had the trademark bull's eye rash and flu-like symptoms. "We are so sorry to disappoint our fans, but we promise to make it up to them," he said in a statement. "This illness made it impossible for me to give my best effort to our audience, but now that it's been identified, I'm looking forward to a complete, quick recovery and to get back out there with John as soon as possible."
The author most famous for her hit novel "The Joy Luck Club" suffered mysterious hallucinations, confusion, neck and joint pain, numbness and insomnia for more than two years before she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. By that time, she had consulted 11 different doctors and paid $50,000 in medical bills, People reported. After researching her symptoms on the Internet, Tan told the magazine that everything clicked -- she had taken many hiking trips in parts of California where Lyme disease is common and she even remembered pulling ticks off of her dogs. While her symptoms were advanced, her doctor told People, antibiotics helped, and she started a charity organization called Lyme Aid4Kids to help raise awareness for the disease.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and poet experienced aches and pains and chronic fatigue that she, according to The Guardian, self-diagnosed as Lyme Disease. She called it a "spiritual transformation" and "frightening," teling Democracy Now! in 2006 that the disease was physically debilitating.
It's not clear if model Brinkley ever had Lyme disease -- but she's certainly taken a strong stance against ticks. In the early '90s she made headlines for raising guinea hens, birds thought to eat deer ticks, at her home in East Hampton, New York, according to TIME. She reported the deer-tick population had fallen on the grounds around her home since introducing the hens, the Philadehlphia Inquirer reported.
Few details are known about the actor's Lyme disease, but he told the New York Times that his symptoms are chronic and return annually. "At the same time of year, I get really tired," he told the paper.
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