Similar illness not ruled out by DoH

But a spokesman said organisms capable of causing an illness similar to the disease had not been discounted.

‘The organism itself has not been identified in studies of Australian ticks and the preferred animal reservoirs for the organism (certain species of mice and deer) are very uncommon in Australia,’ he said.

‘Laboratory-confirmed Lyme disease is very occasionally diagnosed in returned travellers, who have acquired the disease overseas, but there is no conclusive evidence for cases acquired in Australia.

‘Tests to diagnose Lyme disease are technically complex and require specialist expertise. Antibody tests can be falsely positive and misleading.

‘Some people in WA and other Australian states and territories have been diagnosed with locally-acquired Lyme disease on the basis of expensive testing performed in unaccredited commercial laboratories overseas. These diagnoses have not been confirmed in accredited Australian laboratories.

‘People concerned that they have symptoms consistent with Lyme disease after suffering tick bites in WA should talk to their doctor about their symptoms.

‘The doctor will make a clinical decision about the most appropriate testing and treatment, based on knowledge of conditions much more likely to occur in Australia.’

AMA (WA) president Richard Choong said currently there was no evidence Australian species of ticks carried Borrelia Burgdorferi, but there had been an increase in possible cases of Lyme disease diagnosed in Australia.