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UNCOVERING LYME DISEASE: THE GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE

It’s the mystery illness costing the Australian economy tens of millions of dollars through misdiagnosis.

Lyme Disease has the national medical community divided, and sufferers are looking to both tiers of government for answers.

Lyme Disease and its existence in Australia is, to say the least – controversial.

Dr Richard Schloeffel is one of few doctors who have openly voiced their view – that Lyme Disease can be contracted in Australia.

“Clinically the disease is here, the evidence from overseas testing is positive I have patients responding very well to treatments for Lyme – you can’t just say because the test isn’t positive it doesn’t exist. It’s the testing that’s the problem it’s inadequate”.

As a result, he says many sufferers are misdiagnosed, told they have Multiple Sclerosis and Motor Neuron disease – when really, they have an illness that can be treated.

“we need more funding for research, we need more funding for treatment of this disease – but firstly we need is recognition it exists by those most in power”

In 20-12, the New South Wales Government concluded there was little evidence to show the disease could occur in Australia, citing a study from the early 1990s, where 12,000 ticks collected from different parts of the state showed no sign of the bacteria. It has not changed its stance since.

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Two years later, the federal government ruled the same.

The results, stunning both sufferers and those offering life-saving treatment, particularly the head of the St George Clinic in Germany.

After being contacted by NBN News, a spokesperson from the Federal Department of Health acknowledged that many sufferers have NOT travelled overseas – yet stresses there is still no conclusive evidence of a bacteria responsible for the disease in Australia.

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“Many of these patients have not travelled overseas to endemic areas.

So far there is no conclusive evidence of an agent and competent vector in Australia.

The Department of Health is also working with specialist Lyme disease laboratories domestically and internationally along with accredited pathology practices in Australia to resolve the discordance in diagnostic tests.” Spokesperson, Federal Department of Health

However, they did confirm the department is working with specialist Lyme disease laboratories both here, and overseas, to resolve the discordance in diagnostic tests.

Tomorrow night, we look at the desperate and costly bid by sufferers to undergo life changing treatment in Germany. – and how it’s helping.

Watch Dr Richard Schloeffel discuss Lyme Disease in Australia here

Read more here about what is Lyme disease and recognise the early and late stages of symptoms.

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About Emma Murphy

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Emma Murphy is a reporter and producer based in Newcastle and started working with NBN News in 2009. Emma studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of Newcastle.