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Heather King, 38, has to travel to New York to get proper treatment for Lyme disease, which some local doctors would not diagnose. (Laurie Fagan/CBC)

An Ottawa woman says she has been forced to go to the United States for treatment of Lyme disease because doctors here do not know enough about the illness.

Heather King, 38, believes she contracted the illness after she was bitten three years ago near a bug-infested pile of tree bark.

Not long after, she said, she was crippled with searing neck pain, her hands went numb and then her heart started racing uncontrollably.

King said her doctors diagnosed the condition first as fybromyalgia, herniated discs and anxiety but would not treat her for Lyme disease.

Lyme disease

  • A blacklegged tick introduces bacteria into the bloodstream that, without antibiotic treatment, can cause a complicated, serious illness.
  • Scientists call it the "master mimicker" because it shares many of the symptoms of other diseases such as multiple sclerosis, meningitis or chronic fatigue.
  • Ottawa Public Health also said there were 10 reported cases of the disease last year in the city.

"It's devastating ... it's terrifying to know that whatever symptom you get you can't go to your doctor, you can't go to the hospital because no one believes you," she said.

Blood test confirmation, but no treatment

Blood tests soon confirmed Lyme disease, King added, which is caused by the bite of a blacklegged tick, often found in densely wooded areas. The tick introduces bacteria into the bloodstream that, without antibiotic treatment, can cause a complicated, serious illness.

But still, King said doctors still would not treat her.

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Blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, can carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. ((CBC))

She is now travelling to Plattsburgh, N.Y., in September to see Dr. Maureen McShane, an American Lyme disease specialist who once had the illness herself.

McShane told CBC News in 2010 most of her patients are Canadians travelling down with "nightmare stories" and some visit more than 12 specialists without receiving a diagnosis of Lyme disease.

It is a costly trip for King, though, so her friend Kristy Lockhart launched an online fundraising campaign last week to help her pay for the treatment.