Multiple organisms can be injected by tick bites and in Australia the main difficulty has been establishing evidence of the presence of Borrelia, the causative bacteria for Lyme Disease, in Australian patients and in ticks.
There is no dispute the Borrelia species exist in Australia but whether there are any species that cause Lyme disease or Lyme-like illness is still under investigation.
Clinically it seems obvious that there are many patients suffering from Lyme-like illness following tick bites in Australia and there are most definitely patients here who have clearly contracted Lyme disease whilst overseas who need skilled and appropriate management.
Evidence of Lyme disease and Borrelia in Australia
There are a number of journal articles proving the existence of Lyme disease in Australia, some of which are difficult to locate however they have been sourced via Australia's National Library below:
1982 – Lyme Disease in the Hunter Valley; Med Journal of Australia - Lyme Disease in the Hunter Valley Med Jnl of Australia 1982
1986 – Lyme Disease on the South Coast of NSW; McCrossin Med Journal Aust - Lyme Disease on the South Coast of NSW McCrossin Med Jnl Aust 1986
1991 – Detecting the Cause of Lyme Disease in Australia; Med Journal of Australia - Detecting the cause of Lyme disease in Australia Med Jnl of Australia 1991
1998 – Lyme Disease in Australia; Aust/NZ Journal of Public Health - Lyme Disease in Australia Aust NZ Jnl of Pub Health 1998
1998 – Culture Positive Lyme Borreliosis; Hudson Medical Journal of Australia - Culture positive lyme borreliosis Hudson Med Jnl Aust 1998
There are also a number of other journal articles identifying the existence of Borrelia in Australia which are located here.
Diagnosing Lyme-Like Disease
Whilst diagnosis is predominantly clinical supported where possible by blood tests, the presentation of Lyme-like illness especially in chronic form requires a lot of experience as symptoms can be very non-specific Where possible we try to confirm diagnosis with laboratory evidence.
At Gold Coast Hyperthermia where necessary to clarify diagnosis we mainly use the fully accredited and internationally recognised ArminLabs in Augsburg, Germany as our preferred reference diagnostic laboratory due to their 20+ years of experience in diagnosing tick-borne illness. Whilst this is an expensive option, the tests they perform have better sensitivity and specificity than many tests performed in Australian labs.
False negative tests help no-one and false positive tests can be equally problematic. Using an internationally recognised laboratory specialising in tick-borne diseases makes sense and makes accurate diagnosis and specific management easier to obtain.Local pathology laboratory tests are used for the majority of screening tests for possible differential diagnosis alternatives and for routine monitoring of patient progress.