Lyme disease particular problem for beekeepers

Eastern Manitoba major habitat for deer ticks

It’s a mysterious and mostly unknown disease but can be a career ender for farmers in eastern Manitoba.

Paul Gregory, a beekeeping industry spokesperson, said Lyme disease has made dozens of beekeepers sick in the province. In some areas, the infection rate verges on 10 percent, he added.

“Several of my beekeeping friends are suffering from chronic Lyme disease,” Gregory told Theresa Oswald, Manitoba’s former health minister and current economy minister, after her speech at the Keystone Agricultural Producers annual conference.

Oswald agreed with Gregory’s concern but said it was a vexing issue for her when she was health minister because medical experts and scientist are divided over how to detect, understand and treat the disease.

“There are some very profound and entrenched philosophical differences about detection, about testing, about protocols,” said Oswald.

Gregory said farmers want the government to make in-province testing a priority because right now samples have to be sent to California, even though treatment, when required, needs to be done quickly.


Oswald said she would ensure the government remembers that the issue hasn’t been resolved.

“Now is not the time to drag our foot off the gas on Lyme disease, because it is devastating and we need our medical professionals to get together and decide what is absolutely best for Manitobans,” said Oswald.

Lyme disease is transmitted by deer ticks, which are common in the forested eastern fringe of southeastern Manitoba.

Once in a human victim, the disease often spreads and inflicts damage to the brain and nervous system. A quick treatment of antibiotics before the disease becomes established, is believed to be successful in many cases.

Beekeepers are particularly vulnerable to deer ticks because they work in bushy areas for extended times, often covered in all sorts of bugs.


Gregory said all farmers in those areas are vulnerable to the disease, revealed by the fact that it is common there but scarcely heard about elsewhere on the Prairies.

“It is almost endemic,” he said in an interview.

“Either their family members or neighbours or themselves have either acute or chronic Lyme disease.”

Oswald said the health department has established a group of experts, some of whom disagree about the disease, to reach a consensus that allows for better diagnosis and treatment.


  • Nina

    Lyme Disease is a particular problem for the whole world! This disease is NOT rare and NOT mysterious, but it IS being ignored. The world needs to recognise this plague is affecting every state of the USA, Europe and is growing. How much more death and suffering will be needed before action is taken? This has far more numbers, suffering and methods of transmission than HIV/AIDS ever did!

  • Janet Nattress

    An excellent article, thank-you for accurate research, and for pointing to the need for consensus. there is a Bill C-54? I believe, in Parliament going into second reading on this very subject. Naturopathic doctors are licenced in Canada to treat Lyme. They are a very real source of accurate information, moreso than the College of Physicians and Surgeons or the CDC guidelines which are outdated and lacking in substance.

    • Dolores Claesson

      Lyme disease is compromised of many chronic infections including Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, Spotted fever rickettsioses, Brucella, Mycoplasmas, Chlamydias, Tularemia, Q fever and both GI and Blood protozoans ie. Babesia, and a whole host of parasites and GI bacteria. The mis information campaign and mistreatment of lyme patients is deplorable and needs to end immediately !