PEI

If Islanders think they have Lyme disease submit the tick, says Health PEI

Doctors, pharmacists, nurses and other health-care professionals are learning about how to manage antibiotics on P.E.I. at an event called Antibiotic Matters in Charlottetown Wednesday.

'Lyme disease is so hard to diagnose'

Health PEI will accept the tick and do further studies, says Health PEI's infectious disease consultant, Dr. Greg German. (Shutterstock)

Doctors, pharmacists, nurses and other health-care professionals are learning about how to manage antibiotics on P.E.I. at an event called Antibiotic Matters in Charlottetown Wednesday.

One of the major topics on the agenda is Lyme disease and Health PEI's infectious disease consultant Dr. Greg German will speak about the disease including how to diagnose and manage it.

Now, German is asking Islanders to submit ticks.

"If you think you've been bitten and you have a tick with you, I want you to send it to one of our Health PEI laboratories,"  German told Island Morning host Mitch Cormier.

Lyme disease is so hard to diagnose because you have to take so many things into account.— Dr. Greg German

They will accept the tick and do further studies, German said, adding that on the Island there are about zero to four cases confirmed annually, and in those cases people are often bitten off-Island.

Tough to diagnose

"Lyme disease is so hard to diagnose because you have to take so many things into account," German said.

German said factors such as where the patient is from, the time of season and their symptoms all have to be considered.

We have such a low rate of Lyme disease compared to other places.— Dr. Greg German

"There are so many different symptoms that have been shown to be part of Lyme disease in a general sense."

According to Health Canada, early signs of Lyme disease include rash, fever, chills, headache, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and muscle and joint aches.

Untreated Lyme disease can lead to issues such as facial paralysis, heart and neurological disorders, arthritis and in rare cases death.

Testing too early

According to The Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation, patients can sometimes see several false negatives before getting a positive diagnosis.

"The Lyme disease serologic test, the blood test works very well when you are at the one month or later mark," German said.

German says often Islanders who think they have the disease have another condition. (CBC News: Compass)

The test has problems detecting Lyme disease before then because the immune system hasn't been exposed long enough, German said.

"Once you get past one month, or especially three months you are really looking at a 99 per cent success rate."

Low Island Lyme disease rates

Usually people go to the doctor when they notice symptoms or have been bitten by a tick, German said.

German said Islanders who think they have the disease often have another condition.

"We have such a low rate of Lyme disease compared to other places."

German said Health PEI will have a public education campaign about Lyme disease in April, asking Islanders to submit any ticks they find on themselves or a family member.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning

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