Lyme disease has gained further ground in Quebec. Since January, the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) has recorded 259 cases, 80 more than last year. And the year 2017 is not over. Of the 259 Quebecers who contracted the disease this year, 184 acquired it right here in Quebec, according to the MSSS ‘most recent partial report, published this month on its website.
This once considered rare disease has continued to progress, warns Dr. Alejandra Irace-Cima, Medical Consultant at the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ). Lyme disease is transmitted following the bite of a tick carrying the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi . “The tick is moving slowly, but surely in Quebec,” says Dr. Irace-Cima.
Due to climate change, the tick has migrated north. It is now able to survive and grow here because of the mild winters we’ve seen in recent years.
The installation of the tick in some areas of the south of the province is probably responsible for the increase in the number of reported cases and a greater proportion of cases acquired locally, according to the consulting physician at the INSPQ. Moreover, a peak was noted in September in recent years.
More affected regions
The Estrie region is still – by far – the most affected by the disease (119 people contracted in this region), followed by Montérégie (80 people affected, 46 of whom contracted in the region ).
The number of regions affected has increased compared to last year, from five in 2016 to eight this year. While 31 Montrealers have contracted Lyme disease since the beginning of the year, only one person may have acquired it in the city.
The increase in the number of cases is also explained by the fact that the population is better informed of the symptoms and doctors, better equipped to recognize them, says Dr. Irace-Cima.
Symptoms not to be neglected
In 70 to 80% of cases, people have a skin redness that exceeds 5 cm after a few days, usually at the site of the bite. Other symptoms such as fever, fatigue, headache, stiff neck and muscle and joint pain may be added.
If the tick remains hooked for less than 24 hours, the risk of transmission is low. The disease is treated with antibiotics. Left untreated, it can cause joint, heart and neurological damage in the weeks or years after infection.
Still a way to go
The Quebec Association of Lyme Disease – which includes people who are ill, but whose diagnosis was not necessarily recognized in Quebec – estimates that the increase in the number of cases is “good news in one direction”. “I hope that people are more aware of the risks of tick bites, will consult faster and that doctors also know better this disease,” said its president, Marguerite Glazer.
However, doctors who work in some areas further north of the province still deny the existence of the disease in their region or lack of knowledge about it, laments M me Glazer
Karen and her husband live on a plot of land in British Columbia. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. They are also currently planning a move to a small cabin they hand built. Karen’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Thus sprung Anna’s interest in backyard gardening, chicken and goat keeping, recycling and self-sufficiency.