Lyme disease: why the controversy?

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    © 2016 Royal Australasian College of PhysiciansSome Australians have become convinced of the existence of locally acquired Lyme disease (LD). The history of LD, since its recognition in the early 1970s, is reviewed as a model for investigative approaches to unknown syndromes. Australian Management Guidelines for LD include the requirement for diagnostic testing by National Association of Testing Authorities-accredited laboratories using Therapeutic Goods Administration-licensed tests, which result in the efficient diagnosis of LD in overseas travellers. Despite this, patients who have not left Australia pay many thousands of dollars for non-specialist consultations and testing at overseas laboratories. Unproven long-term therapy with multiple antibiotics has resulted in serious complications, including allergies, line sepsis, pancreatitis and pseudomembranous colitis. Studies have shown that LD vectors are not found in Australia, and Lyme Borrelia has not been found in Australian vectors, animals or patients with autochthonous illnesses. I propose that (i) A non-controversial name for the chronic syndrome should be adopted, ‘Australian Multisystem Disorder’. (ii) Research funding should enable the development of a consensus case definition and studies of the epidemiology of this syndrome with laboratory investigations to identify an aetiology and surrogate markers of disease. Prospective, randomised treatment studies could then be undertaken using ethical protocols.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1370-1375
    JournalInternal Medicine Journal
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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