A Saskatchewan MP says the federal government needs to start taking Lyme disease more seriously.
Saskatoon-Grasswoods MP Kevin Waugh said he has been hearing from sufferers who got tested in Saskatchewan, but were told by doctors their ailment was something else.
Many are only finding out they have the condition after sending their blood away to be tested elsewhere, usually the US.
“You know, a year can go by without getting a proper diagnosis and I think that’s where the medical profession has to take note,” Waugh said. “You know it’s really unfair in this country, it’s a disease on the uprise and yet I think the medical profession, they haven’t been forthright, I feel, in the way they’ve gone about it with their patients.”
Waugh said he has brought the issue up in the House of Commons a number of times and wants the federal Health Minister Jane Philpott to do more.
“To be honest with you, we’re really disappointed in her position on this. She’s a former doctor, now the health minister in this country, and she’s not taking it as seriously as I believe she needs to do,” Waugh said.
The federal government recently announced $4 million for research into Lyme disease, but Waugh said he thinks the initiative falls short.
“When I looked it over, it fails to address the limitations of testing and how to improve the current testing system,” Waugh said.
“It’s a rather new disease and I think it’s going to be an epidemic here as we all know there’s a lot of ticks, especially in Saskatchewan and Alberta and I think this is just the tip of the iceberg that we’ve heard over the past year or so.”
Waugh said he’s also not seeing enough engagement with experts.
“Let’s talk to the Lyme disease community and they’re not including them in the drafting process of the framework. They’re ignoring all their expertise and suggestions.”
Saskatchewan’s deputy chief medical health officer, Dr. Denise Worker, said Monday there remains little risk of contracting Lyme disease in the province.
Of the 21,000 ticks sampled in Saskatchewan over the past decade, 50 were the type that cause Lyme disease. But that could change in the future.
“I can’t predict when it will be here in Saskatchewan, but we continue to take this seriously and to watch for it in both ticks and in humans,” Werker said.