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How Lyme Disease Affected My Family

April 22, 2015

I’m writing this to describe my experience with Lyme Disease.

The nightmare began in 2004 when my I found a tick on my daughter. I am a Registered Veterinary Technician and well aware that some ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Unfortunately, at the time, I seemed to be the only one worried. Knowledge about Lyme disease in Ontario was limited, and I was told that diagnostics and treatment were not necessary. There were no reported cases of Lyme disease in Ontario at that time and therefore, no cause for alarm.

But I was alarmed. I desperately wanted to have my daughter tested ‘just in case’ or at least put on antibiotics as a preventive measure. This was not a recommended course of treatment and therefore nothing was done.

Needless to say, I lost many nights sleep worrying whether I had done everything that I could for my daughter. I also scared myself silly reading about Lyme Disease and talking to people who had been affected.

Fast forward to 2010. I found a tick on my Golden Retriever while brushing her one day. Of course, being the fastidious Veterinary Technician that I am, I safely removed the tick and kept if in a jar. I then called Dr. Sargent to ask if I could send the tick away for testing. He told me that there were very few cases and the chances of this tick causing my dog Lyme disease were very small. I was thankful for his reassurance; however I told him that my experience with my daughter had haunted me for years. He sympathized and said that he would be happy to send the tick away for testing.

The tick tested Positive for the Bacteria that cause Lyme disease.

This was a complete shock to me. Although I was relieved that my dog would be fine because of this early diagnosis, I was horrified that I had not been able to test my daughter’s tick years before. What if hers was positive too? It was great that my dog was going to get treatment and beat Lyme disease, but what about my daughter?

I immediately called my daughter’s Doctor, who performed a blood test. It came back positive/negative. I’m sure the Doctor knew I was about to panic, and he assured me that the test must have had an error. He repeated the test and it came back negative.

I was grateful for his support, but decided I needed to look further. I found a lab in California called IGenX that did DNA testing for the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease and also for other ‘co-factors’ that ticks can carry. I had my daughter tested for this full panel of DNA and thank goodness, everything came back negative!

My story highlights how Lyme disease has progressed in this area. It is far more prevalent here than it was when my daughter first had her tick. I certainly understand first-hand the importance of prevention and early detection. My dog did not ever get Lyme Disease thanks to Dr. Sargent. And to be sure she never does, I put her on prevention and have her blood tested every year.

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