Medics torn

The committee was established by the Government’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Baggoley in 2012 and provides advice on the evidence of Lyme disease in Australia, information on diagnostic testing, treatment options and research requirements.

The Lyme Disease Association of Australia (LDAA) report up to 10,000 people were diagnosed with the tick-borne disease, but the Australian Government and health authorities do not recognise the disease.

Medical professionals are divided over the existence of indigenous Lyme disease.

There are growing numbers of Australians, who have not travelled overseas to endemic areas but have developed symptoms of Lyme disease.

A conclusive finding of the bacteria (Borrelia) that could cause the disease has not been made in Australia.

A spokeswoman for Professor Baggoley said tests are being carried out to see if patients show an immune response to the bacteria that could cause the infection.

‘There are different approaches used by different laboratories in this process, which leads to different diagnoses for the same patients,’ the spokeswoman said. ‘While the diagnostic uncertainty across the medical community was not ideal, doctors are required to use their clinical judgement to assess the cause of any illness patients may be experiencing and act accordingly.’

The Department of Health last year commissioned a microbiologist to produce a scoping study to develop research projects into the presence of Lyme disease in Australia.

The LDAA have since submitted an extensive response to the study, challenging many of the findings and research sources cited by the author.

It recommended research into the patterns of Lyme disease or Lyme-like illness in Australia should be carried out, as opposed to following North American research and policy.

Murdoch University is looking into the presence of Lyme disease in Australia.