Former local doctor publishes new book

HALIFAX: Retired physician, Dr. Ben Boucher, now has a new book on Amazon.

The new work, It’s Not Just Ticks, It’s Not Just Lyme: Pertinent Insights Into the Original, Recognition and Treatment of Lyme and Related Infection was released in April as an eBook and is available in paperback.

“It took me a year or so to get it together,” he told The Reporter.

Boucher is a retired family physician who practiced medicine in and around the Strait area for 35 years.

In the last seven years of his career, Boucher said he received education on Lyme and related infections, allowing him to assess and treat over 200 patients from across Canada using International Lyme and Associated Disease Society protocols. He said he attended three conferences hosted by the society and “learned a lot from the presenters,” which allowed him to give better clinical diagnoses and treatments.

Boucher said many people have been misdiagnosed over the years when it comes to Lyme Disease and other related infections.

“There’s quite a bit unknown about Lyme Disease. The point I’m making in it, is that it’s not just Lyme Disease, it’s not just ticks,” Boucher noted. “Yes, ticks spread Lyme Disease, and they also spread other infections.”

According to Boucher, research showed that his treatments were effective, that Bartonella (Cat Scratch Disease) infections “are likely more prevalent than Lyme disease,” and that brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) was helpful in diagnosing these infections.

“The thing that’s not well known is that ticks spread more than Lyme, and other insects spread Cat Scratch Disease, as well as ticks, and probably more than ticks,” he said. “Cat Scratch Disease is spread by bed bugs, fleas, mosquitos. Cats can spread either by scratching or by licking because it’s in their saliva. Other inspects that spread it are large biting flies, like loose flies and other large flies.”

According to Boucher the medical community has difficulty diagnosing Lyme Disease, and is unaware of the other infections caused by ticks.

“They’re behind the game when it comes to recognizing, not just Lyme Disease, but in particular Cat Scratch Disease,” he said. “That’s a big issue. So the infectious disease community is slow to recognize these infections and their spread. And therefore, the general practitioners are behind as well.”

Boucher said some patients who underwent a brain MRI showed indications of a brain infection, but radiologists weren’t picking it up.

“We did a survey of 75 patients to see how they responded to my treatment, and they had a very good response, and in particular if they were picked up early,” he recalled. “If their infection was picked up a year or two years later, then it was more difficult to treat them. I could decrease their symptoms but not necessarily cure them. If I saw them within six months to a year, I could get rid of all their symptoms. Of those 75 patients in the survey, only two of them had a positive Lyme test, but 22 of them had indications of a brain MRI of a possible infection, but only two of the radiologists indicated in their report that there was a possible brain infection. They were more inclined to look at it as not in keeping with MS but if the patient had symptoms of MS, then treated accordingly. In fact, they missed the possible diagnosis of an infection. That shows, to me, is probably more effective in picking up an infection than a blood test is.”

Although there were a small number of cases in the region, Boucher recalled the first case he recognized locally involved a patient from Port Hawkesbury who contracted Lyme Disease in Antigonish County.

“It was my first local diagnosis,” he stated. “That became an issue because the diagnosis was difficult because of the lack of adequate testing. One had to make a diagnosis based on one’s exposure to possible infectious sources, and also their symptoms, and then a response to treatment. That’s how I evolved in my approach to it.”

In the years since that first case, Boucher said he saw “quite a few” patients from around the Maritimes, who were ill for a prolonged period of time, and were not recognized as potentially having an infection. He estimated 75-80 per cent of his patients had Bartonella infection, with or without Lyme Disease.

“We have scientific evidence that Bartonella is out there significantly, as well as Lyme,” he noted.

Boucher said his advocacy activities included presentations to groups such as a Canadian representative on an international ad hoc committee to the World Health Organization in Geneva, and a presentation to the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Health.

“I became well known as somebody nationally who recognized and was willing to assess, and make a possible diagnosis, and treat,” he said. “I had patients coming from, in particular mainland Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, and then others from across the country.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the medical community has fallen further behind in dealing with such infections, the former doctor noted.

“Lyme and related infections is taking a back-burner, despite the fact it’s probably more prevalent than it ever was,” he said of the increase in the local deer population, which is the main source of ticks.

Boucher added he hopes the information in his book will be beneficial to the general public, as well as health care practitioners.

“People who have read it already have told me that yes, it’s well written, it’s easy to read, and gives a lot of information that’s very helpful,” he added.