Fighting Chronic Lyme Disease

Winery Owner Building Research Centre for Lyme Disease

[Reprinted from thespec.com;  by Joanna Frketich Jul 05, 2013]

The founder of an Ontario winery with area connections is working to create a research facility for Lyme disease with the hope it will one day test and treat patients.

Rossana Di Zio Magnotta saw firsthand the lack of knowledge in Canada on how to diagnose and treat the debilitating disease as her husband, Gabe, travelled to Europe and United States looking for a cure. He died Dec. 30, 2009.

“There is no reason for people to die, lose their homes (paying for treatment in other countries) and go through all this stress and trauma,” she said. “We are not doing a good job of testing and treating.”

The CEO of Magnotta Winery Corporation, which has a crushing facility in Beamsville, wants scientific research to end a growing rift in the medical community over whether Lyme disease is a chronic illness that requires long-term treatment with antibiotics or an infection cured within 30 days.

In addition, she wants reliable testing to diagnose the bacterial infection spread by the bite of blacklegged ticks. Right now, patients who are negative for the disease in Canada are sometimes positive in the United States because of differences in interrupting the results of two blood tests, first the ELISA followed by the Western Blot.

Magnotta’s husband tested negative in Canada but positive in both Europe and the U.S.

“I see how poorly it is supported in Canada,” she says. “My dream is eventually have a centre where people can get treated.”

She is putting in roughly $300,000 of her own money and announced July 3 that the federal government granted charitable status to the G. Magnotta Foundation for Vector-Borne Diseases.

The foundation will raise funds to create the research centre, which will be housed at Toronto’s Humber River Hospital when it opens in fall 2015. It will also establish a bio-repository or human tissue bank for patients who have symptoms of Lyme disease but are undiagnosed.

The issue is significant, considering the Public Health Agency of Canada reports Lyme is rising since becoming a reportable disease in 2009.

In April, the Canadian Medical Association Journal “Open” published an article showing Lyme disease increased approximately 80 per cent in the U.S. between 1993 and 2007.

A number of Hamilton patients have joined growing numbers of Canadians with Lyme disease paying tens of thousands of dollars to get treated in the U.S. because most Canadian doctors won’t go against the maximum amount of antibiotics recommended by the American Academy of Neurology and the Infectious Diseases Society of America. There are some American doctors more willing to prescribe antibiotics beyond the recommended limit.

Some doctors who have given long-term antibiotic treatment have been investigated by their regulatory colleges and, in some cases, given up their medical licences.

“We can do the research and find accurate detection and treatment for this devastating disease,” said Magnotta. “I’m very excited about it. It’s very doable.”

"In the fullness of time, the mainstream handling of Chronic Lyme Disease will be viewed as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of medicine."
Kenneth B. Liegner, MD
Board Certified Internist + training in Pathology and Critical Care Medicine / NY
doctor