Manitobans with Lyme disease call for better testing in Canada
Cheryl Holmes, CTV Winnipeg
Published Friday, May 29, 2015 6:14PM CST
Last Updated Friday, May 29, 2015 6:28PM CST
It's a disease that's still a mystery to most and it strikes fear in many.
Lyme disease is hard to diagnose, and many people with the illness say doctors don't want to deal with it.
Brynn Mayo contracted Lyme disease when she was 13. She experiences many symptoms, including morning paralysis, headaches, anxiety, depression and amnesia.
“I’ve had very bad heat regulation. I have extreme fatigue and some of my symptoms have disappeared but with that new symptoms have come,” said Mayo.
Her worst symptom is air hunger. “I was trying to get air but couldn't get anything into my lungs, but when I went to the hospital for it, all of my oxygen stats were fine. Everything was completely normal so they couldn't really do anything for me,” she said.
That doctor response mirrors the one the 18-year-old received when she first went to have the illness tested.
In Canada, Mayo was told she didn't have Lyme disease.
Two years ago, her mother forced Mayo to get tested in the U.S., and the results showed otherwise.
"She just wanted me to have a solution so that people would stop saying that all my issues were psychosomatic," said Mayo.
Jan Cmela, from the Manitoba Lyme Disease Group, said it took more than 40 doctor visits before she was diagnosed.
She said to keep a tick if you’re bit, and bring it to a doctor for free testing.
“It’s so hard to test the person, but if they have the tick and it’s positive, doctors are more apt to believe them,” said Cmela.
Research shows that the numbers of dogs that contract Lyme disease in any given area are directly proportionate to the numbers of humans who can contract the disease in the same area.
In the last seven years in southern Manitoba, more than 1,300 dogs contracted the disease, but in the province last year, only 44 confirmed human cases were reported.
"Given the incidents in dogs, we strongly believe there's a lot of people that may have Lyme disease that maybe don't know it, and should evaluate it," said Dr. Ron Worb, the Chief Veterinarian at Anderson Animal Wellness Centre.
Worb said veterinarians can confirm if a dog has been exposed to Lyme disease minutes after a blood test. Another test level shows if they've contracted it.
Human testing in Canada starts off much the same way, but Manitoba Health said final and further results take far longer.
"The test is more complex but it is far more specific and sensitive, especially once the disease has actually progressed," said Dr. Richard Rusk from Manitoba Health.
However, few Lyme disease patients agree with Rusk’s statement.
Mayo said after more than $20,000 in treatment south of the border, her symptoms improved only after she had left Canada for help.
A ride to raise awareness about Lyme disease will pass through Winnipeg on Saturday, May 30. A group will meet at 622 Tache Avenue at 2:00 p.m. to provide people with more information.