Hamersley woman seeking Lyme disease treatment in Cyprus

Carli Amesz. Photo: Martin Kennealey
Carli Amesz. Photo: Martin Kennealey

A HAMERSLEY woman is raising money to travel to Cyprus in the hope of getting her “life back”.

Carli Amesz was a “fit and healthy” 20-year-old when she developed glandular fever five years ago.

After several months, she continued to experience extreme fatigue, muscle aches and weakness, unexplained heart palpitations and irritable bowel syndrome but it took four years before a Perth doctor diagnosed her with Lyme disease.

“After four tough years I was so excited to finally have some answers,” she said.

“After the diagnosis my doctor tried me on antibiotics which seemed to help initially, before I had a big flare up where I’ve spent the last few months sleeping around 15 hours a day and hardly able to function.”

She found treatment options in Australia limited and plans to travel to the MedInstitute in Cyprus, which specialises in treating viral infections like Lyme disease.

Symptoms forced her to give up university study in 2016 and though Mrs Amesz works casually as a photographer, she said they mostly relied on her husband Andrew’s income.

“After having to spend thousands over the last few years on different tests and treatments while battling on one income, we are crowdfunding to help us get over there,” she said.

Lyme disease, transmitted via tick bites, is not recognised in Australia but the Federal Health Department acknowledges it exists in parts of the USA and Europe.

Mrs Amesz said she felt “heartbroken” having to seek treatment overseas because there was limited support in Australia.

If picked up early, antibiotics can treat the infection.

“It’s extremely hard to find information regarding doctors to see in Australia for Lyme disease,” she said.

“There are no words for the feeling of knowing this all could have been prevented if the doctors here knew the signs to look out for.

“I would love to see this change in Australia … (then) thousands of Australians would never have to go through the debilitating condition in the first place.”

A WA Health Department spokeswoman said there was no conclusive evidence Lyme disease was transmitted in Australia but laboratory confirmed cases of the disease were “very occasionally” diagnosed in Australians returning from overseas.

“As there is no evidence that Lyme disease occurs in Australia and the risk of acquiring it overseas is very small, it is not notifiable to the department,” she said.

“The tests to diagnose Lyme disease are readily available in Australia but are technically complex and require specialist expertise.”

The spokeswoman claimed some people were inappropriately diagnosed with locally-acquired Lyme based on “expensive testing performed in unaccredited commercial laboratories overseas” and encouraged those concerned they have an illness following tick bites to talk to their doctor.

A 2013 report and recent Federal parliamentary inquiries found Australian ticks transmitted diseases including rickettsial infections, Q fever and mammalian meat allergy that could cause a range of symptoms.

To donate to Mrs Amesz, visit bit.ly/2NHWZ4T.