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Byron Shire
June 20, 2024

Help needed for Lyme research

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The Echo loves your letters and is proud to provide a community forum on the issues that matter most to our readers and the people of the NSW north coast. So don’t be a passive reader, send us your epistles.

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It’s that time of year again when baguettes and olives are embraced along with your cerulean blues and your crimson lakes, for the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre’s annual Community Picnic and Artist Paint Out on Sunday, June 30.

I’d like to weigh in on the ‘controversial’ discussion of Lyme disease currently occurring in Australia.

From my understanding, the mainstream medical community in this country are informed by a single, decades-old Australian research project stating that borreliosis (Lyme disease) and other co-existing tick-borne disease was not spread to human hosts. We do however have Queensland Tick Typhus and Flinders Island Spotted Fever transmitted in this manner.

My interest in this issue comes from personal experience. I have lived in this area for most of the last 30 years, and have been bitten my more ticks than I care to remember. Ten years of deteriorating health (and multiple medical practitioners) landed me with a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, for which mainstream medicine has no answers.

As my symptoms expanded to include overwhelming fatigue, headaches, dizziness, nausea, tingling fingers and forearms, blurred/double vision, tinnitus, heart palpitations, transient joint pain, arthritis, brain fog and cognitive decline, understandably, I began to seek answers elsewhere.

A doctor in Brisbane diagnosed Lyme disease via a laboratory in the USA, as pathology in Australia may potentially not be testing for current strains present in the local environment. I wonder how this would have played out had I been bitten by a tick in the USA and returned to Australia with these symptoms? Our diagnosis, pathology and treatment protocols seem deficient compared to other nations.

In my opinion, updated research is required so we may be informed and aware of a potential health risk which is successfully treatable in the acute stage.

The Chief Medical Officer has established a Clinical Advisory Committee to further investigate an apparent rise in Australian patients presenting who look an awful lot like they have a Lyme-like disease (despite not having been bitten by a tick from a traditionally endemic area such as Europe and the USA).

Murdoch University is undertaking a research project which aims to ‘determine whether our ticks could carry any other infections we don’t know about’ and ‘identify and analyse ticks for infections because there is increasing concern that some tick-borne diseases are becoming more common in Australia’.

There is further information at www.tickvectors.com. This project is supported by Bayer and the Australian Research Council, however they require ticks for analysis.

As a constructive contribution to this issue, we can support scientific investigations by collecting ticks from animals, humans and the environment and sending them to Murdoch University. Contact [email protected] for collection information and kit, or alternatively [email protected] if you require more detailed information.

Amanda Bannatyne, Mullumbimby

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