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Penticton firefighters take bite out of Lyme disease

PENTICTON — The Lyme Sucks Challenge may be the next social media craze, at least that’s what Penticton resident Sue McDougall is hoping. The challenge involves sucking on a lime and broadcasting it on social media.

McDougall is passionately involved in this challenge because she has been living with Lyme disease for more than six years. She’s made it her goal to spread awareness on the bacterial disease.

“It’s a very debilitating disease, very debilitating,” she says.

Lyme disease is spread by ticks and the symptoms mirror many other diseases, making it hard to diagnose.

“It is a multi-system disorder. It can affect the organs, the glands, hormones and so, it is extremely devious disease,” says Jim Wilson, president of the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation.

Wednesday morning, a dozen Penticton firefighters took on the Lyme Sucks Challenge.

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After sucking on the citrus fruit, they nominated Emergency Social Services, B.C. Ambulance personnel and all professional firefighters in Canada to do the same.

Participants donate $10 to the cause and those who get nominated but decide not to suck on a piece of lime, are encouraged to donate $100.

In the most recent Public Health Agency of Canada, there were 682 confirmed cases of the bacterial disease. This number nearly quadrupled compared to 144 cases in 2009. The agency reports the true figure is likely greater.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that roughly 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the United States.

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