Image: Diseases caused by the borreliosis bacteria in Australia has long been debated. By Andy Park and Amy Sherden.
Independent senator John Madigan has come out firing over the treatment of Australians suffering with Lyme disease.
The existence of Lyme disease or diseases caused by the borreliosis bacteria in Australia has long been debated.
As it stands, health authorities deny the existence of the tick-borne disease on Australia’s shores and doctors have faced disciplinary action for treating it.
“We’ve got doctors in this country that genuinely believe that these people are suffering from Lyme disease or Lyme-like symptoms,” Senator Madigan told 7.30.
“And you can’t get any help, you can’t get any respite, you can’t get cured with the efforts [doctors] are using.
“These are genuine Australians who are being treated worse than a dog riddled with mange.”
A Senate inquiry will investigate the existence of the controversial disease as well as the treatment of patients at the hands of medical professionals.
Marie Huttley-Jackson said she was dismissed by multiple GPs before her eight-year-old daughter, Genevieve, was diagnosed with Lyme-like symptoms.
“We had 23 different doctors and 20 months of searching before we found out what was wrong,” Ms Huttley-Jackson said.
“We were pretty devastated by that but we’re pretty tough and we were not going to roll over and take that because we knew that wasn’t right.”
‘Not enough evidence to conclude Lyme disease in Australia’
Genevieve’s treating doctor Peter Dobie said that he now feels more confident in discussing his treatment of patients with Lyme disease since the announcement of the Senate inquiry.
“Currently I’m treating approximately 150 patients with borreliosis,” he said.
“I’m certainly concerned, I think all doctors treating this illness are concerned about possible disciplinary action but I feel a moral obligation to treat these patients and I will continue to treat them to the best of my ability.”
Despite growing public awareness of the debate, infectious disease expert Dr Peter Collignon said there was not enough good evidence to conclude that Lyme disease was in Australia.
“All the evidence at the moment is that, despite people looking, we don’t have the classical form of Lyme disease in Australia, as is the one in Europe and the US,” he said.
“People have looked for Lyme disease but have not been able to find it by any method that most people would think is acceptable.”
The ABC’s 7.30 understands that leading experts will prepare submissions to deny the existence of the disease for the Senate inquiry, which is due to report in June this year.