Ryus St. Pierre recently returned home to Winnipeg from a conference in Ottawa on Lyme disease.
The federal government conference held last week invited doctors and patients from across Canada. They shared experiences and ideas that will be used to form a new federal framework for attacking the disease largely caused by a bacteria carried by deer ticks.
"It was great for the first time, basically, to have a patient’s voice in regards to Lyme disease,” said St. Pierre on Sunday. "We've had our input, but now if it goes to the doctors and then they just kind of do just what they normally do and ignore sort of what the patients are saying, then it's just going to go back the old same way."
St. Pierre is a geologist who was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2014.
“Over the years, I’ve probably pulled 50 ticks off me,” he said.
He used to spend a lot of time surveying land and collecting samples during tick season.
But for the past six months, St. Pierre hasn’t been able to work because of his symptoms. He now uses his time to advocate for Lyme disease patients and to check for ticks carrying the disease in city parks.
St. Pierre hopes the new framework will include a more accurate test to diagnose patients along with more visible public education.
The federal framework is expected to take a year to complete.
New over-the-counter bacteria test available
Another step in the fight against Lyme disease in Canada is tick test that you can now buy at the pharmacy.
It’s called the Care Plus Tick Test and it costs about $20.
The test is for the tick itself. Once taken off your body, you crush it in a vial and add a solution.
A paper test will then tell you if the tick is carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. The instructions say it’s 95.8 per cent effective.
But the test does caution it is not a substitute for medical advice and the final step is to consult your doctor.
St. Pierre isn’t so sure about what the newly available test adds for Canadians, if there isn’t changes in the way Lyme disease is diagnosed and treated.
“You'll end up going to the doctor and they'll say, 'OK, well let's do our test,’” he said. “And then you run into the issue with you've still got a faulty test. So, you still have to get through a brick wall essentially."