By Hannah Stone
As debate continues about the existence of Lyme Disease in Australia, people are suffering in silence, awaiting recognition and medical support.
A major event to raise awareness about the condition will take place in the Synergy Parkland at Kings Park this Saturday in conjunction with Lyme Awareness Month.
Lyme Disease is caused by a bacteria called ‘Borrelia’ that is transmitted from ticks, impacting on many bodily systems and organs.
The symptoms come in various stages often including headache, fever, muscle soreness and unexplained fatigue.
A Senate inquiry into the illness has been underway and was scheduled to end in June but this now seems unclear given the dissolution of parliament ahead of the election.
Kate Daniels, Chairperson of Multiple Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome Inc., says the inquiry has become bogged down in semantics with the discussion only now considering other causes than just classic Borrelia.
“I hope they continue the Senate Inquiry after the election to investigate what is making people sick because Australia definitely has a disease like Lyme,” said Ms Daniels.
Melinda Stephen, from Bibra Lake, has had Lyme Disease since 1998 from a tick in NSW but was undiagnosed for 15 years until luck led her to a doctor in 2013 who had recently learnt about tick-borne diseases and gave her the diagnosis.
“I now have to mop up and detox the biotoxins which is a huge job after having it for 18 years, and also work to repair the organs in my body that have been damaged by the infection and the biotoxins,” said Melinda.
“I don’t know how long all of that process will take and I try not to think about it because it makes me too sad.”
Sufferers say there isn’t enough research in Australia into the type of bacteria that causes Lyme disease here and what tick carries it.
Some doctors believe Lyme Disease does not exist in Australia and it can only be caught in more endemic countries such as Europe and the US.
Commenting on the medical denial of the disease, Melinda said she has lost family and friends from the lack of understanding and recognition.
“It’s a very isolating illness, and we have to become pseudo-doctors and pseudo-scientists because there is no medical support,” said Melinda.
Watch the video below to hear more of Melinda’s story: