The United States is not the only country in the world facing rapid increases in Lyme disease cases. While Massachusetts certainly faces a higher density of the problem, there are regions in other countries such as France that face a significant problem. With a large variation in how our governments support Lyme disease prevention, we might be able to learn a few things to implement here at home to help slow the spread of the debilitating disease. Here are a few interesting things France has put in place.
Public Awareness Campaigns
NPR reports that France has released a national plan to address tick-borne diseases like Lyme. One of the first steps in that initiative is public education and awareness (a goal near and dear to our hearts.) From a national radio campaign “to be watchful is to win,” and a slew of posters at pharmacies and clinics, France is targeting the general public in its entirety to be aware of where ticks are and how to avoid them. Additionally, there are Beware of Ticks signs at forest entrances with advice on what to watch for and how to safely remove a tick.
Medical Training & Care
The government is also educating hundreds of doctors and placing pamphlets in doctors’ offices for additional public education. There is also a stand-out facility where patients struggling to get a diagnosis can receive a full day of testing to identify what the cause of their symptoms could be. Even if it is not Lyme, the facility performs many tests until they find a potential cause. If the suspected cause of symptoms is outside of their capability, they have connections for referring patients to receive a timely follow-up with the appropriate specialist.
Tick Reporting App
A combination of technology and crowdsourcing, a new phone app in France is being used to track tick bites. Used to improve research on ticks and Lyme, the practical results are a quick identification of tick hot spots for increased safety precautions. It is also helping to measure the proportion of local tick population that is carrying Lyme disease.
There are a variety of complex political issues and a large difference in our medical systems that make emulating France’s Lyme Disease prevention efforts difficult. However, we can learn from their successes and failures as they continue to roll out more pieces of their national plan to combat tick-borne diseases. Which of their initiatives spark your interest? Keep tuned into our blog as we attempt to provide a piece of the public awareness campaign. And if you have any questions call us anytime at (978) 381-4028