28.2 C
Byron Shire
November 27, 2022

Lyme: a dangerous disease that gets under your skin

Latest News

A treasured community asset

The Bowlo, a treasured community asset in Bangalow very popular with young families, is now destined to be part...

Other News

The fight for patient ratios and safety continues

As nurses and midwives around the country fight for better staff-to-patient ratios the union decided to strike again on Wednesday.

Targeting journalists

Israel has a long tradition of targeting journalists and since 2000 has killed 45 according to the Palestinian Ministry...

Plenty of competition in Bangalow Summer 6s as finals loom

Bend it Like Benji have taken a hold on first place of the men’s Pool A ladder of the...

Piccadilly Circus comes to Mullum

When it comes to the art of complaining, I’m among the best. Ask my friends, my partner, my mum-in-law – the cat…

Varroa mite detection sees Red Zone expanded

NSW Department of Primary Industries Varroa mite tracing and surveillance work has confirmed a new detection of Varroa mite, as field officers continue hive inspections with beekeepers across the state.

From Margaret River to Byron to save veterans

William ‘Will’ Burnett served in the RAAF for ten years in logistics and ended his career as a well-established physical training Instructor. After his discharge, on his return from the Middle East, his mental health declined and he struggled through the clinical health system.

Lyme patient Marlena Connors suffers a seizure in the film Under Our Skin.
Lyme patient Marlena Connors suffers a seizure in the film Under Our Skin.

Francene Lee Taylor

We freak out when our beloved pets get a tick, but little do we know that even the smallest of infected ticks can pass on numerous life-threatening infections to humans.

Lyme disease has nothing to do with citrus. It was named after a town in Connecticut in the USA where this chronic disease was first identified.

It’s become a global disease epidemic, which is often a mystery for Australian doctors. As vectors, or carriers of infections, the bite from infected ticks can pass on diseases with mysterious names like Borrelia, Rickettsia (tick typhus), Babesia, Bartonella and Lyme disease.

The spirochetes of the Lyme-causing Borrelia bacteria are the corkscrew-like causative agents much smaller than the bacterium itself. They tunnel into cells and spread the bacteria DNA throughout the body, causing the debilitating infection. These spirochetes protect infected cells with a complex defence of biofilms and cysts, making chronic infections harder to treat.

Lyme is one of the fastest growing tick-borne infections in the world. Each year 300,000 (0.1 per cent) of people in the USA are infected. Similar epidemic figures from around the globe suggest 21,000 Australians could be infected annually.

The symptoms of Lyme disease can vary greatly from person to person: joint pain, extreme fatigue, numbness, tingling, stabbing pains, night sweats, cognitive dysfunction, air hunger and recurring fevers caused by the body’s responses to the infection.

Yet Lyme disease is not officially recognised in Australia. Negative test results are controversial, as many Australian and overseas types of the disease are not included in the testing.

Chronic Lyme is also known as a great imitator with vague symptoms. It of often mimics symptoms of Motor Neurone Disease (ALS), or Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.

When I was bitten by ticks and was concerned about having Lyme disease, my local doctor said there is no Lyme disease in Australia according to the government advice at that time.

Local tests were negative, but DNA testing in America came back positive for Lyme disease. The controversy facing Australian doctors and patients has been the lack of recent research into what diseases Australian ticks are carrying.

My search for answers led to the Karl McManus Foundation and, wanting to be proactive, I founded the Northern Rivers Lyme Network http://bit.ly/NRLNtick, aligning with The Karl McManus Foundation.

The Foundation is funding research at Sydney University to provide up-to-date evidence needed for improvements to testing, diagnosis and treatment of Australian tick-borne diseases, including Lyme.

Although Lyme is not an officially recordable disease – with no official statistics – the growing number of Australians affected has forced federal and state health authorities to update their infectious diseases advice, saying that while doctors should not rule out Lyme Borreliosis, more evidence is needed.

Mullum screening

For Lyme Awareness Month, the Northern Rivers Lyme Network is screening the internationally award-winning documentary Under Our Skin at Mullumbimby, Santos Heart Space, Friday May 23 at 6.30pm. Another screening will be held at the Byron Bay Community Centre on Saturday May 31 at 2pm. To support this important research, donations can be made to the karlmcmanusfoundation.com.au website or contact Francene on 6680 3347. See more about the film Under Our Skin at www.underourskin.com.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. My daughter has tested positive for the Borella bacteria and has been diagnosed with Lyme

    We live in the Brisbane area

    She was bitten by a tick approximately 18 months ago

    She was originally diagnosed with chronic Fatigue, however as a mother I would not accept that a young woman of 20 has so many symptoms
    Fatigue, headaches, dizziness, body aches, Joint pain, night sweats, lack of concentration, stomache pain.

  2. After contracting Ross River and Barmah forest viruses, I am convinced I suffered the insult to injury of Lyme disease. I live in a rainforest and believe that these viruses are related and one infection leaves a person more vulnerable to the others. First in the cannoning downward spiral was Chicken pox ( thanks to my beautiful daughters ) then Glandular Fever then the above with indecent haste. All of the sequence has been documented by my GP but…… they refused to even test me for the Lyme Disease because “it doesn’t occur in Australia”. The above list of viruses took approximately ten years to clear my system and have had an ongoing effect on my well-being, but take heart the horrific symptoms of chronic fatigue do eventually lessen.
    Dear, J Shaw have patience and build your daughters immune system with fresh food and lotsaluv. I’m sure at her age she will fully recover.

    • How did you treat your viruses Ken? Ive been chronically unwell for 12 years with severe ME/CFS & FIBROMYALGIA however after reading a bit about Lyme disease this sounds like me also especially as ive developed a new symptom of night sweats & hair loss in the last year which i read may be a sign of late stage Lyme Disease?
      Any info or places to contact in Australia would be greatly appreciated.

  3. What treatment would an infected person expect to receive? How long do symptoms last? Is the desease life threatening? I stay in a tick prone area and I am constantly removing ticks from my body!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Curious statements on Assange

The couple of letters under the headline of ‘In Defence of Julian Assange’ contained some curious statements in an attempt to justify the unjustifiable.  Marc...

Emergency radio tower

An emergency radio tower is proposed for Teales Lookout, Koonyum Range. It is proposed by the telco authority via Catalyst One Pty Ltd, via Amalgamotion...

Ballina water supply

A recent Echo article regarding Rous County Council’s plans to access Alstonville ground water through bores for its Future Water Project 2060 via an...

For the record

Since early January 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic started, when the world population started to be informed of the new health danger facing everybody,...