Lyme disease survivor trying to map out the tick borne illness in Smithers

Tim Tchida wants to raise awareness of ticks in the region

A Smithers man who had lyme disease is on a mission to help others who contracted it and spread awareness that he thinks the tick-borne illness is in the Bulkley Valley.

Lyme disease is caused by four main species of bacteria and is transmitted by the bite of an infected tick.

One sign of being infected is an expanding red area that sometimes clears in the centre, forming a bull’s-eye pattern.

Tim Tchida said he isn’t exactly sure when he contracted the disease, but he has known about it for five years and it was a long and difficult journey to be diagnosed. He has traveled to Germany and the United States for testing spending approximately $300,000 in the process.

“It was horrid,” he said. “I could’ve been homeless. I’m now again running a 500-person company, but at the time lyme disease was affecting me, I couldn’t even cook broccoli. It is way more severe than anyone understands.”

Tchida added that he was finally diagnosed in the United States.

“I went to a clinic for three months in the States and they kept telling me to be patient. It was about two and a half months in, and then suddenly over a three-day period I was able to come in and say it was back. Because of the biotoxins, you have inflammation in the brain, some people have it in their joints, some of it in their organs. It is still a mystery why it is selective that way. But the biggest concern is that people who have a tick bite, remove it correctly and keep it so they can get it tested.”

He said he couldn’t get the help he needed locally because he doesn’t think doctors think ticks carry lyme disease here.

“Lyme is present,” he said. “The [bulls-eye] rash has presented itself and there are dozens of people in the Bulkley Valley that are dealing with Lyme disease now. It isn’t accepted collectively in our medical system. It is so discouraging to hear that people are struggling for answers, even in our small valley trying to recover from Lyme disease without clear direction.

On the BC CDC’s website, it states there were zero confirmed cases of Lyme in the Northern Health Authority in 2018, the latest year of available data.

Tchida is now trying to conduct a study in the Bulkley Valley to map out where ticks are and what they are carrying.

“The mapping for Borrelia was just to see how much Lyme is in the valley, there is no question that Lyme is here. The CDC won’t say that, but I’ve had Lyme disease and since people in the community have known that, I’ve gotten calls from other people dealing with Lyme disease,” he said. “I’ve gone through it. It was a five-year journey. It was two years of horrid consequential hell. I’ve met people throughout the world on that same journey through lyme disease. It is frustrating to hear that doctors don’t accept it to be true because that is how they are trained.”

He is asking people who get a bite to remove the tick properly, put it in a bag and freeze it while noting the location, date and host. People interested in participating can email Tchida at tim@summitreforestation.com

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