Nova Scotia residents turn to a lab in New Brunswick to find out if they have been bitten by ticks carrying Lyme disease. Provincial health authorities in Nova Scotia favor a different strategy.
A Halifax resident, Margo Beveridge, reports being bitten by a tick twice, once on the back and once on the eyelid. Each time, she was prescribed antibiotics and suffered no adverse consequences. But no way of knowing if the insect was a carrier of Lyme disease.
Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, explains that tick test results are not known quickly enough to allow the doctor and patient to make a decision based on this information.
The Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory can provide results within two to six weeks. A doctor must make a decision for his patient within days of a tick bite, as it might be carrying Lyme disease.
Nova Scotia no longer needs citizens to submit ticks to determine whether the ticks carry Lyme disease
The Ministry of Health no longer needs citizens to submit ticks for analysis as the biologists now roam the Nova Scotia woods collecting insects, which are tested for Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Powassan virus. Thus, faced with this situation, hundreds of patients turn to New Brunswick to find out if the tick that bit them was carrying the disease or not.
Vett Lloyd, a researcher at the Lyme Disease Research Centre at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, analyzes ticks sent by Maritime citizens. The researcher says the center receives 300 to 500 ticks a year from Nova Scotians who do not have a lab to test ticks for Lyme disease.
The Public Health Agency of Canada and provincial health departments advise against making a decision about a patient’s treatment based solely on tick tests. Ms. Lloyd agrees with their recommendations.
On average, 41% of the ticks caught by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and tested last year were carriers of the bacteria causing Lyme disease. Also, Eastern Canada is more exposed to ticks carrying Lyme disease.