Opinion: Inquiry into Lyme-like illness calls for more research and better treatment

December 5, 2016

Dorsal view of an echidna tick, Bothriocroton concolor, (imaged by Siew-May Loh )

Dorsal view of an echidna tick, Bothriocroton concolor, (imaged by Siew-May Loh )

For the past 20 years, a debate regarding the presence of Lyme disease caused by a specific group of bacteria transmitted by ticks has resulted in often intense and confused media attention.

Murdoch researchers Dr Charlotte Oskam, Professor Peter Irwin and Professor Una Ryan have co-authored a piece for The Conversation to unravel the complexities and ambiguity surrounding Lyme-like disease in Australia.

This issue was referred by the Senate to a parliamentary inquiry. The inquiry received over 1,260 submissions, making it one of the largest to date. The final report was released this week.

“In Australia, at the present time only three infectious diseases are known to be transmitted from ticks to humans; Queensland tick typhus; Flinders Island Spotted Fever; and Q feve

r,” Dr Oskam said.

“However, an increasing number of people who are bitten by Australian native ticks develop an illness with symptoms that are often similar to Lyme borreliosis; these include feeling unwell, sore/stiff joints and chronic fatigue.

“Lyme-like illness on the other hand refers to symptoms that are caused by a variety of tick-borne pathogens, which mimic Lyme disease symptoms in patients. However there is no currently accepted definition for Lyme-like illness.”

The researchers believe there is an urgent need for confirmed diagnosis and treatment for many Australians fighting illness following a tick bite.

The full article can be read here.

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