Lyme Disease Progress Report: New guideline and current research

27 Aug 2015

The latest Progress Report on Lyme Disease in Australia issued by the Chief Medical Officer announces the release of an Australian guideline on the diagnosis of overseas acquired Lyme disease/borreliosis, to assist doctors when considering Lyme disease infection in Australians travelling in endemic areas.

The Progress Report also has news of recent research into potential pathogens in Australian ticks that has revealed at least one new species for further investigation. Professor Peter Irwin’s research, while not detecting Lyme disease Borrelia bacteria in Australian ticks, has detected the DNA from a Borrelia species associated with relapsing fever. The species was detected in one Australian tick collected from a wild echidna, out of a sample of 196 ticks. Professor Irwin emphasises that it is not yet appropriate to link the bacteria he found in the ticks to them causing disease in humans.

The Lyme Disease progress report also states that the Department of Health has contracted the National Serology Reference Laboratory to evaluate the serology assays currently used for the diagnosis of Lyme disease in some specialist Lyme disease laboratories as well as in pathology laboratories in Australia. This will hopefully resolve the question as to why test results from one patient can be positive in one laboratory and negative in another.

To read the full Progress Report and for further information visit the Lyme Disease page on the Department of Health website.