New Brunswick

Lyme disease under-reported in New Brunswick say advocates for better care

Debbie McCann of the Atlantic Lyme Disease Association, said infected ticks are a growing problem in this province but cases of Lyme disease are still vastly under-reported.

May is Lyme Disease awareness month

People gathered at the legislature on Tuesday calling for better treatment methods and timely access to care for people with Lyme disease. (CBC)

Demonstrators, many of them dressed in lime green, gathered in front of the legislature Tuesday, warning about the increasing number of cases of Lyme disease and the need to take the threat seriously. 

They're also calling for new guidelines for the detection and treatment of the tick-borne disease. 

Debbie McCann with the Atlantic Lyme Disease Association, said infected ticks are growing in this province but cases of lyme disease are still vastly under-reported.
Debbie McCann of the Atlantic Lyme Disease Association says she believes many cases of Lyme disease are going unreported. (CBC)

"Maine reported 1,400 confirmed cases in 2014, whereas New Brunswick confirmed five cases, so that doesn't even make sense," she said.

McCann lives in Hoyt and said she was sick for three years before she was even diagnosed with the disease, a problem she blames on the medical community.
Symptoms of Lyme disease, which is spread through ticks, include fever, headache, fatigue and a bull's-eye rash (Victoria Arocho/Associated Press)

"Right now, it's an emerging disease that our medical community hasn't really caught up with ... the science on this." 

Dr. Gregory Taylor, Canada's chief public health officer, said there were at least 700 new cases of Lyme disease in Canada last year compared to around 100 in 2009. 

Speaking at a national conference on the infection in Ottawa on Tuesday, Taylor expressed concern.
Kelly Grant says she needed to go to the United States to get a proper diagnosis of her Lyme disease. (CBC)

"It's complex and difficult and it's growing," he said.

Kelly Grant, who was at Tuesday's demonstration at the legislature, knows just how debilitating Lyme disease can become.

She said she was bitten by a tick at Mactaquac Park in May of 2012 and her health went on a downward spiral with joint pain, extreme fatigue, headaches and even mental confusion. At one point she said she was in a wheelchair.

Grant was finally diagnosed by an American doctor and is now recovered, but she said it took a long time to get better and months of antibiotics.

"We need legislation saying, you know, that they [doctors] can prescribe long-term antibiotics. One or two antibiotics isn't going to do the trick."