Retired vet Dr John Curnow BVSc is calling on Australia’s health authorities to support the Karl Mcmanus Foundation’s research into tick-borne diseases in Australia, saying Lyme disease has been in Australia for decades.
The retired serologist, John Curnow, worked in conjunction with the CSIRO on the epidemiology of tick-borne diseases in NSW. This involved developing and using accurate blood tests for tick-borne diseases in cattle between 1982 and 1988.
In 1988 CSIRO published evidence that identified at least 14 species of Borrelia, including the one that causes Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, but the 1988 study of Australian patients did not test for any other Borrelia species but Lyme disease.
Even today Australian patients are being told they don’t have Borrelia infections because of a study that was done between 1988 and 1994.
‘In this study 4,372 patients with suspected Lyme disease were tested for a specific group of antibodies identified with the eastern USA variety of the Borrelia. The results of this ELISA test showed all but 1.8 per cent of the subjects to be negative for Lyme disease,’ Dr Curnow says.
‘But what about the other 13 species of Borrelia that were identified, but ignored – species for which there are still no specific tests?’
Dr Curnow says patients were told they had negative results for Borrelia infection, and were refused treatment despite relapsing fevers, and other common symptoms of tick-transmitted infections.
Based on this study’s results doctors are still telling patients that there is no Lyme disease in Australia, but Dr Curnow says that the 1988 study and the medical authorities have failed Australian patients.
‘Rather than treating people based on the history of debilitating symptoms and relapsing fevers, patients have been denied treatment for more than 20 years.
‘Patients such as John’s wife could not get treatment because the design of the test study failed them.
‘The testing was not designed for the infections in Australian ticks, and this is where we are today.’
With the growing number of Australians affected Dr Curnow says the health authorities need to urgently fund new research into tick-borne diseases to identify what diseases are in Australian ticks and ensure patients have access to accurate testing and effective treatments.
John Curnow will also be speaking at the Northern Rivers Lyme Network screening of Under Our Skin on Saturday May 31st at 2pm at the Byron Bay Community Centre, Jonson Street, Byron Bay.