Kamloops Lyme Disease Awareness Walk held to raise public perception of 'isolating' disease

Lyme disease walk is virtual

A walk to raise awareness for Lyme disease is going virtual this year.

Jen Meers, organizer for the Kamloops Lyme Disease Awareness Walk, said the last time she was able to host the event in 2019, it drew 150 people.

This year, there won’t be an organized gathering due to COVID-19 restrictions, but Meers said people can still participate in raising public awareness of the disease.

“We’re just asking people to go for a walk on May 1, any time of the day around your neighbourhood,” Meers said, adding that participants can wear green to show their intent to raise awareness for Lyme.

“If you send us a selfie, we have a bunch of great prizes.”

Meers said prizes include floats at Bliss Float Centre, treatments at Kamloops Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, and gift cards to Wild Birds Unlimited and Real Deals.

Meers, who co-founded the Kamloops Lyme Disease Awareness group, said she has been personally affected by the illness, which is carried by certain species of ticks and spread through the insect’s bite.

“I’ve had it basically my whole life, and I didn’t get diagnosed with it until six years ago, when it was far too late,” Meers said, adding that Lyme can be easily treatable if caught early, but it’s difficult if the disease is advanced.

“It’s so advanced for me, I’ve done every treatment, IV antibiotics, just absolutely everything I can, and it hasn’t even touched it. So I really want to make sure I can help people to prevent it, because it’s so easy to prevent.”

She said misdiagnosis is common for those who have Lyme, as symptoms can vary from person to person. According to Meers, it can be "isolating" for those who live with the disease.

Meers said she wants the public to know that Lyme is affecting people in the Kamloops community.

“I don’t want anyone else to go through this,” she said.

“Do your tick checks, just watch out for symptoms and be very careful outdoors.”

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