According to a press release from the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia, Lyme disease does not exist in Australia. More specifically, the paper claims that the ticks native to Australia and New Zealand are not thought to carry the Lyme disease bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi.
This position statement maintains the official stance that the disease, when it occurs in Australia and New Zealand, is the result of overseas travel or some other method of infection besides a bite from a native tick. As we’ve seen previously on LymeDiseaseGuide.org, cases of Lyme disease have been reported in people who have never left Australia, throwing this stance into doubt.
However, as of January 2014, the RCPA state that there is no evidence of Lyme disease borne endemically in Australia or New Zealand. They do acknowledge that should a case occur that is definitive, confirmed by blood tests or polymerase chain reaction, in someone who has never left Australia, then the issue will be settled once and for all that Lyme disease does exist in the ticks in the country.
The RCPA were concerned over the misinformation about Lyme disease in Australia that has been causing patients to seek diagnosis using unproven tests and procedures, leading them to access potentially harmful and inappropriate treatment, often with intravenous antibiotics. For a diagnosis to be taken seriously by health insurance companies and many physicians, people in Australia have to test positive on blood tests carried out by a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory.
Those non-NATA/RCPA accredited laboratories are, according to many health experts, using testing procedures that have not been validated for use in diagnosing Lyme disease. As such, those physicians basing a diagnosis on results from these labs may be making an inaccurate diagnosis.
In addition to highlighting the need for proper testing, the paper discusses how chronic Lyme disease should not be treated with long-term antibiotics, stating that any benefits seen in this treatment is unlikely to be a result of the antibiotic’s antibacterial action.
Clearly many people are disappointed with this position statement, firmly believing that Lyme disease is present in ticks in Australia and that they have been infected by such ticks. Patients are encouraged to go through proper channels to get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment, rather than relying on dubious testing from companies who stand to make more money from fear than from accuracy.