- Parliamentary inquiry being held into Lyme disease
- Five WA people with like symptoms suicided in past three years
- Authorities say no evidence of locally acquired Lyme like illness
Patients, doctors, pathologists and advocates have met in the first public hearing for the parliamentary inquiry into the tick-borne disease.
Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is a bacterial infection recognised in America and other parts of Europe and Asia.
The WA Department of Health told the inquiry Australians who have travelled to a known “Lyme country” could effectively have contracted the disease.
But it said there was no scientific evidence to prove the existence of a locally-acquired Lyme-like illness.
More than 800 submissions were made to the committee, the majority of those were from patients who say they suffer from Lyme-like symptoms, some for decades.
Kate Daniels, from the Multiple Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome group, told the inquiry people with Lyme-like symptoms were being discriminated against.
“We’ve become the lepers of the Australian medical profession,” she said.
“Because no one wants to know about us, no one wants to treat us.”
She told the inquiry within the past three years, five people suffering from Lyme-like conditions had taken their own lives in WA.
“Doctors are too afraid to treat them because of the stigma,” she said.
“Consequently people go on, untreated, and the bacteria spreads, causing long-term chronic illnesses.”
Patients receiving positive results for bacteria tested overseas
The Department of Health told the inquiry no Australian accredited laboratory had produced a positive result for the Lyme bacteria in a person who had not left the country.