Lyme disease: five people with symptoms suicided in WA in past three years, inquiry hears.

Five West Australians suffering from conditions similar to that of Lyme disease have taken their own lives in the past three years, a parliamentary inquiry hears.

Key points

  • 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.


But many patients were sending their samples to international laboratories and receiving positive results for the Borrelia bacteria.

The Department of Health said those tests were inaccurate, despite some of the international laboratories having internationally recognised accreditation.

The Australian Medical Association WA president Michael Gannon said the parliamentary inquiry was a farce.

“Patients with Lyme-like illnesses deserve our sympathy, they deserve appropriate treatment,” he said.

“But this inquiry is an unholy waste of money, the only possible recommendations from this parliamentary inquiry are more research, and that research is already being done.”

Senator John Madigan, who initiated the inquiry, said a large number of Australians were suffering and more needed to be done.

“Get on and do your job,” he said of the government health authorities.

“You’re supposed to be there to help people. They’re sick, they’re not putting it on and if it’s not Lyme — what the hell is it.”

Research at Murdoch University is investigating whether a native-bacteria is causing the symptoms.

Many of the senators on the committee voiced their opinion that research needed to become a national priority and more needed to be done for people suffering in the meantime.

The inquiry will hold another public hearing in Brisbane on Friday.

Image: Supplied/ABC

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This post originally appeared on ABC News.