Friday, April 30, 2010

May is Lyme awareness month

So what are you doing to celebrate Lyme awareness month?

Hopefully you have found (or are organizing!) an awareness event in your neighbourhood -- the possibilities are endless; put up ribbons, distribute information, host a screening of Under Our Skin, or organize a Lyme lecture. Please drop us a line if we can help spread the word for your event.

Here is info on what's happening in the Fort Erie, Ontario area, just down the road from scenic Niagara Falls and across the border from Buffalo, New York. There will be four free screenings of Under Our Skin during the month of May!

Three of the screenings will be at the Fort Erie Public Library:
Centennial Branch -- 136 Gilmore Road
Saturday May 1st at 1:00pm

Centennial Branch -- 136 Gilmore Road
Tuesday May 4th at 6:00pm

Crystal Ridge Branch -- 89 Ridge Road South
Wednesday May 12th at 6:00pm

The fourth screening will be held at The Boutique Movie Theatre:
320 Ridge Road, Ridgeway
Monday May 24th at 7:00pm.

For more information or to reserve seating, please contact Melisa. Here is a downloadable poster for the event. Spread the word! For additional info about this award-winning documentary film, including film trailers and excerpts, please visit Under Our Skin online.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

IDSA abandons Chronic Lyme patients

In its final report released today, the IDSA's Lyme Disease Review Panel has concluded that no pressing changes need be made to the 2006 Lyme guidelines. The IDSA has tragically failed the Lyme community in this determination. Citing a lack of controlled trials and high-quality clinical studies, the Panel placed little value on the extensive submissions by the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) and other supporting information.

This excerpt from the final report provides a good summary of the IDSA's position:

"This conclusion [i.e. that there is no significant benefit to long-term antibiotic therapy] was reached despite the large volume of case reports, case series, anecdotes, and patient testimonials reviewed that attested to perceived clinical improvement during antibiotic therapy. Such evidence is by its nature uncontrolled and highly subject to selection and reporting biases. In many published case reports patients did not receive initial Lyme disease therapy consistent with the current standard of care, so it was impossible to be sure that shorter duration therapy had failed. In some cases the diagnosis of Lyme disease was doubtful based on clinical presentations consistent with other illnesses. Some patients were abnormal hosts and not representative of the general population. Many reports included patients whose diagnosis was made before the implementation of the CDC recommendation for 2-tier serological testing, and were therefore based on less stringent criteria. Finally, caution should be used in extrapolating results from European studies to North American patients, due to the well-established microbiological and clinical distinctions in Lyme borreliosis on the two continents."

The IDSA has missed an opportunity here. Rather than foster an environment in the medical and research communities where perceived gaps in information might reasonably be filled, the IDSA has adamantly cemented its position that Chronic Lyme does not exist. In spite of the IDSA, these gaps in information are gradually being filled. But how many lives will be destroyed in the meantime, while we are constrained by inadequate diagnostic tools and physicians who are for all intents and purposes discouraged from using their clinical judgment. We can speculate who is served by this report. It most certainly is not the best interest of patients.

If you can bear to read it, you can download the final report in its entirety or access it online from the IDSA website. The IDSA welcomes your comments.

The Connecticut Attorney General's Office has already issued a brief statement indicating it "will carefully and comprehensively assess the final report". Look forward to that. In the meantime, you can let the AG know what's on your mind by email.

This is a sad day indeed.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring cleaning

Another spring season is upon us. Yes, that time of year when Lyme patients in the northern hemisphere renew the desire to shake off the shackles of our hibernatory albeit involuntary habituation.

Last year really was extraordinary in terms of media attention to issues of Lyme disease. Let's keep that momentum building! We need to continue to press our media and government, both locally and nationally, lest they forget how this devastating disease is impacting not only each one of us, but also countless other Canadians who become infected each year and are abandoned with inadequate access to testing and treatment. And as additional States go in the direction of legislative protection for Lyme-literate doctors, ensuring patient access to treatment options, we push on towards the day when the first of our provinces will take such a bold step. Will it be yours?

And what else may lie in store for us this year? No one knows for sure. But there are already some exciting entries in the calendar.

While snowbirds shivered in the south during recent months, many areas of Canada enjoyed a mild winter. But just as several States reported a significant increase in tick populations last year, there are indications we may experience a tick explosion of our own in 2010, as noted in this recent article in Manitoba's Winnipeg Free Press.

During the March Total Health Show in Toronto, raw milk advocate Michael Schmidt (Glencolton Farms) and constitutional lawyer Shawn Buckley (National Health Products Protection Association) reminded us that if we value our freedoms, we must make our voices heard. This is no less true for the Lyme community. April's Vitality Magazine includes a related article on the theme "Saying NO to Corporate Healthcare Fraud".

Just last week, an article in the Calgary Herald highlighted the problem of Lyme patients being misdiagnosed with MS and other chronic conditions. The article focused on the recent thesis of Winnipeg researcher Kathleen Crang.

Also last week, Bryan Allen's AM940 talk show focused on Lyme disease issues in Canada (you can download the 35 MB mp3 file here). The 2-hour program included interviews with Jim Wilson (CanLyme President), the renowned Dr. Ernie Murakami (Dr. E. Murakami Centre for Lyme Research, Education & Assistance), Rossana Magnotta (Magnotta Winery President who lost her husband to Lyme-related complications in December), and Lyme patients from across Canada. You can send a note of thanks to Bryan by email.

Looking forward... well first backwards. Remember last year's review of the IDSA Lyme guidelines? Yes that review -- the one that came out of the Connecticut Attorney General's investigation finding several conflicts of interest in the original guidelines preparation. Feedback on the review process was originally expected by the end of 2009. Then it was early 2010. The delay may be related in part to recent allegations by the Attorney General's office that the IDSA has failed to abide by the agreed voting procedure in assessing individual recommendations of the original guidelines. Amidst little fanfare, the IDSA website's Guidelines Review section recently issued a more definitive statement: its final report will be issued by the end of April. While unspecified, we take this to mean 2010... Please stay tuned.

Canada's foremost consumer advocate, Dale Goldhawk, will devote his Wednesday radio program to Canada's Lyme disease crisis. Remember to tune in to Goldhawk Fights Back on AM740 or listen online this Wednesday, April 21st, from 11:00am to 1:00pm.
***update*** You can download the 18 MB mp3 file from the radio broadcast here. Please drop a brief thank-you message to Dale Goldhawk and encourage him to cover this subject matter further.

And May, in many jurisdictions of the world, is recognized as Lyme disease awareness month. While Canada has shamefully failed to offer official recognition to this important issue to date, let's not let that stop us. Keep an eye out for local events in your community!

As examples of new life are springing all around us, here is a wish that each of us will be reinvigorated to push on. Let's continue our "tireless" (OK, this is obviously a very relative word for the Lyme community) pursuit of truth and justice, against the tyrannical status quo of the medical establishment and our government representatives.

"Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, that is all that ever has." Anthropologist Margaret Mead