May 12, 2014 4:39 pm

Lyme disease cases on the rise in Nova Scotia

BEDFORD, N.S. – The number of Lyme disease cases is on the rise in Nova Scotia, prompting a warning from the province and health advocates.

There were 155 confirmed and probable cases of Lyme disease in 2013, compared to 52 in 2012.

The bacterial infection is transmitted by Blacklegged ticks, which thrive in wooded and forested areas.

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“I think the key message for the public is that any time they are outdoors in Nova Scotia in bushy grassy wooded areas, there is the potential for ticks and to take appropriate precautions,” said Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s Chief Public Health Officer.

At the same time, Strang also attributes the rise in cases to increased awareness and testing.

“What we’re seeing is more and more patients with clinicians doing testing, which is a reflection of a lot of the work we’ve done in public awareness,” Dr. Robert Strang said. “People [are] more aware of the symptoms to watch for.”

There are six known areas in the province where Lyme disease is known to be present in ticks. That includes parts of Lunenburg, Shelburne, Queens, Yarmouth and Pictou counties, as well as Halifax Regional Municipality.

The first symptom of Lyme disease is usually a rash that looks like a bull’s eye target. In later stages, symptoms can include flu-like symptoms, nervous system issues and arthritis.

Donna Lugar has suffered from Lyme disease for years and recently started a support group for other patients. She was misdiagnosed multiple times, and wants to prevent that from happening to others.

“It’s very tricky and we need more research and we need the doctors to acknowledge that it’s in the province and to learn about it,” she said.

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