To the Editor;

Lyme Disease Awareness Month is behind us now, but we must be aware of the possibility of contracting Lyme as well as the co-infections that the black-legged tick can carry any time of the year when the temperature is above 4 C.

It is high time that more doctors are aware of the problem and get on board to treat it appropriately. It is not a quick fix. I hear from so many across Canada and elsewhere that their doctor is saying ‘no Lyme here’. It is past time for change and time to treat the root cause of so many problems rather than just focusing on symptom control. Each person is a unique individual and can’t be put into the same box. It is past time to treat the person and not the condition or disease they may have. There are treatment guidelines endorsed and followed by the Nova Scotia College of Physicians and Surgeons; these guidelines are set out by the Infectious Disease Society of America but are not the only ones. The International Lyme and Associated Disease Society also provides a set of guidelines. These are guidelines and are not etched in stone. Treating each case individually and doing what is in the best interest of the patient should be what is done.

Zoonotic and vector-transmitted infections are not something medical doctors have focused on in the past. Times are changing. I have had doctors tell me there is no Lyme here or that they have heard of it but know nothing about it. I have heard the same from others all across Canada and abroad. The way doctors are educated or trained must change.

One Health is a collaborated approach recognizing that humans and animals live in a shared environment. The World Health Organization defines One Health as “an approach to designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes.”

The One Health approach has many professionals with different expertise working together such as public health, animal health, plant health, as well as environmental health. The One Health approach focuses on the ‘we’ rather than the ‘me’. It was some years ago that I suggested to the head of the standing committee on health that doctors and veterinarians should get together on this topic and I was told it was not possible. Years have since passed and it is definitely past time for this.

Climate change has certainly played a role in the spread of ticks just as clear cutting has changed the environment such that there are now more deer in urban areas than wooded areas.

The health of humans, animals and the ecosystems are interconnected. Understanding the value of working together on issues at the interface of these different sectors is vital. Change is coming but it is slow.

Education is key.

Brenda Sterling-Goodwin

New Glasgow