Diagnosis positive: Tick disease is here

A LAURIETON doctor says he has “absolute proof” two of his patients have a tick-borne disease that health authorities say does not exist in Australia.

GP Dr Peter Mayne said two of his patients had the bacterial illness Lyme disease.

He urged medical colleagues to keep an eye out for the infection.

“I’ve taken tissue samples at the bite sites, and sent them off for DNA analysis, and they were positive,” Dr Mayne said.

Debate continues about whether Australian ticks can carry Lyme disease.

“There are perceptions that Lyme disease doesn’t exist here in Australia, and the medical profession have been lulled into thinking that they don’t have to worry about Lyme disease,” Dr Mayne said.

In its later stages, the infection can spread through the bloodstream and affect the brain, heart and joints.

Earlier symptoms can include a rash, fever, headaches, tiredness and joint pain.

Lyme disease made headlines this month after an autopsy showed a Sydney man had the disease when he died.

The dead man’s wife planned to launch a class action against NSW Health, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Dr Mayne said he had a list of about 30 patients - from Newcastle to Coffs Harbour - with the disease.

It was “incredibly difficult” to diagnose, he added.

The illness is spread by ticks carrying the Borrelia bacterium.

It cannot be passed between people.

A NSW Health fact sheet about the disease says only some ticks can be infected and they are not found in Australia.

Lyme disease is “rare or absent” here, the fact sheet claims.

There may be other similar infections here, it says.

The fact sheet adds that past cases where the disease did occur here involved patients who contracted it overseas.

Lyme disease is common in Europe and North America.

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