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Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Monster Lives Among Us: by Jerry Libstaff

Today I'd like to share with you an article written by friend and colleague, Jerry Libstaff. I would like to thank him for his work as I turn my 'seat' in the neighbourhood over to Jerry....

Join us May 1st, at 3pm in the Brones Room at the Key Center Library, to experience a free screening of an informative documentary that everyone needs to see: UNDER OUR SKIN. This is an international award-winning insight into the epidemic of Lyme disease, the political issues surrounding it and the unmeasurable suffering it causes. The number of reported cases of Lyme disease has more than doubled each year between 1992 and 2006. Nearly 29,000 new confirmed cases were reported in 2008. Additional studies have shown that the actual number of cases of Lyme disease may exceed reported cases by a factor of 6 to 12 and continues to rise as people increasingly move to new suburbs and rural areas where Lyme disease transmission is most frequent. Yet Lyme is one of the most misunderstood and controversial illnesses of our time.

Difficult to test accurately, tens of thousands of people go undiagnosed--or misdiagnosed with such conditions as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, autism, MS and ALS. The Center for Disease control admits that possibly more than 300,000 people may acquire Lyme disease each year, a number greater than AIDS, West Nile virus, Swine and Avian flu, combined. When correctly diagnosed, the majority of patients with Lyme disease can be successfully treated with a standard course of antibiotics. However, patients who are not treated early on may develop symptoms now identified as post-Lyme Syndrome. Of those, 30-50% acute Lyme disease patients go on to develop chronic Lyme disease symptoms.

Treatment at that point, becomes a lifelong struggle. It's said that early diagnosis and treatment can cost $25-$50 and last only several weeks. if the disease is allowed to become ensconced over a period of non-treatment, the costs can rise to hundreds of thousands of dollars while the disease becomes devastating and virtually incurable.

In our region, Lyme disease is contracted from the bite of the tiny western black-legged tick. If you find you've been bitten by a tick, it's suggest that you remove it properly; use tweezers and pull it straight out by the head, do NOT squeeze the body. Retain the tick in a jar with alcohol. A doctor can test the tick for the disease and if it does test positive, appropriate treatment can be administered.
UNDER OUR SKIN is an essential contribution to the current national debate about health-care reform. Deregulation of scientific research and conflicts of interest in medicine are poisoning health-care, denying our citizens health, and costing our citizenry profound loss of productivity. We need to overhaul our medical research, health delivery and insurance systems. Lyme disease is the canary in the coalmine and a case study for what's broken and needs fixing. What has gotten under our skin is not just a micro-organism, but medicine itself, and a poisonous system which has abandoned some of the most needy.
UNDER OUR SKIN exposes the hidden story of Lyme disease, one of the most controversial and fastest-growing epidemics of our time. Each year as thousands display symptoms, they are often told their problems are mental rather than physical. Follow the stories of patients and physicians fighting for their lives and livelihoods, in an inspiring movie that everyone who lives in and around nature needs to see.

Just as climbing a rock face or kayaking a river requires responsible behavior, hiking and walking through our wilderness requires that we be aware and take whatever simple measures necessary to remain safe.

UNDER OUR SKIN brings home the need to be vigilant, to work with your doctors and the desperate need for new procedures. For your sake, don't miss it.

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