Amidst social distancing restrictions and declining rates of COVID-19 infection, many Ontario residents are eager to get outside and re-connect with nature. However, May is also Lyme Disease Awareness month, and spring’s onset is expected to cause hundreds of new Lyme disease cases in this province.
Researchers at Queen’s University have launched a new collaboration between citizens and scientists to eliminate misdiagnosis of Tick-Borne Disease in Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Outdoor activities pose a risk of infection from ticks carrying viruses and bacteria. In response to this growing threat, researchers at Queen’s University are asking citizens for new insight. Masters student Emilie Norris-Roozmon is promoting a new anonymous online survey for anyone who has been bitten by a tick. In collaboration with her supervisors Dr. Robert Colautti and Dr. Rylan Egan her thesis research will use public surveys to track patterns in reported symptoms that are associated with tick bites.
“Whether symptoms are severe or mild to non-existent,” explains Norris-Roozmon “we think this kind of data is valuable and underutilized in the study of tick-borne infections.”
“There seems to be a growing disconnect between some patients and the diagnoses they receive,” said Dr. Colautti, Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Rapid Evolution at Queen’s University, in a release. “That alone is not evidence that we are missing something important, but I think it’s worth trying to quantify.”
The survey evaluates the “client-centred care” that patients receive, and their resulting symptoms. The survey emerged from the Canadian Lyme Disease Research Network (CLyDRN) and is part of an integrated research program on tick-borne diseases funded by Canada’s Federal Tri-Agency.
In addition to Lyme, many diseases can be simultaneously transmitted by ticks in eastern Ontario, including Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Powassan disease. Infectious diseases like Lyme disease
and COVID-19 have caught health care institutions off-guard, with significant financial and human health impacts. Norris-Roozmon and her colleagues are hopeful that their integrated approach will help to improve diagnosis of tick-borne disease in Ontario.
Anyone who has been bitten by a tick is asked to submit this anonymous online survey. See the image below for additional details.