Outbreak of Ticks in Australia

In a recent article published in Your Local Families Magazine (1/1/19) Warning to Parents – Outbreak of ticks in Australia the writer makes some interesting comments.

The article, whilst it outlines tick awareness (which is important on many levels) is a little confusing.  I don’t blame the reporter, however, as the Australian Department of Health appears to be misguided.  I quantify this with the scientific evidence that Borrelia has been found in Australia as far back as 1959.  In the Australian Journal of Zoology 1959 paper The haematozoa of Australian mammals states “Blood parasites, which appear to be related to bacteria or viruses, occur in cattle, rodents, and bandicoots. These include species of Anaplasma, Haemobartonella, and Eperythrozoon. Spirochaetes belonging to the genus Borrelia occur in the blood of cattle, rodents, kangaroos, and bandicoots.”

Further, in the Medical Journal of Australia, on February 6, 1982 the article Lyme Arthritis in the Hunter Valley identified Lyme Arthritis. 

For some reason the Australian government has not acted upon this and there are further studies readily available that confirm its presence.

The Local Families Magazine states ‘most tick bites pose no long-term harm to humans’.  Sure, some people will never get sick from a tick bite, but many do and are, and many have never left Australian soil.  

The article further states ‘All ticks can carry tick borne diseases. Brown Dog and Bush Ticks are mostly associated with Lyme Disease-like symptoms (despite the Lyme Disease bacteria being identified in sick patients, the Australian government insists Australia does not have a Lyme Disease problem – instead referring to it as “Lyme Disease Like Illness”)’.

Aren’t these words semantics? What is the difference whether you call it Lyme disease or Lyme disease like illness?  Those people suffering already don’t care what its called they simply want resolution.  And Australia does have a problem!

Governments and the medical fraternity have been wrong before and my research leads me to believe that on average it takes 17 years for doctors to take on board the latest research.  You only have to look to the Nobel Prize in Medicine for 2005 which was jointly awarded to Barry Marshall and Robin Warren for their discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease.  These two Australians were subjected to a great deal of opposition by fellow colleagues, however this story is a reminder to always question common wisdom and keep working to prove what is right.  Interestingly, prior to the findings patients with ulcers were routinely classified with psychosomatic illnesses.  The Helicobacter Pylori bacteria is also a spiral-shaped bacteria.  Lyme patients in many instances will and have been referred to psychiatrists.

The Mammalian Meat Allergy (MMA) sweeping the East Coast is a huge problem and has been reported by a Western Australian man (who has not left the State) indicating that the tick causing MMA is on the move. MMA patients have a severe anaphylactic reaction to red meat but can also include aversions to things such as milk or even supplements with fillers.  If going into anaphylactic shock is not a serious health concern, I don’t know what is!

There are so many issues that this article raises such as co-infections caused by ticks.  These co-infections have the capacity to make humans extremely sick, or worse still can kill, hence my concern about the Australian government’s lack of acknowledgement of this pandemic disease and its none acceptance on the Notifiable Disease Register.

Added to this is the incidences of dogs dying from tick bites.  And they do.  Symptoms of tick bites in dogs includes fever, loss of appetite, lethargy or depression, coughing, retching, or vomiting, difficulty in breathing or rapid breathing, arthritis/swelling in joints, and lack of co-ordination in the hind legs to name a few.  Sound familiar?

And as far back as 1894 Redwater disease, carried by ticks, killed up to 90 per cent of cattle in some areas of Queensland.

In Australia, individuals, couples, and whole families are suffering from Lyme disease (or Lyme disease like illness) and its co-infections.  Many have been diagnosed, many have not.  Many have gotten better, many have not.  Many have traveled overseas for treatment (costing considerable amounts of money), many have not (because treating Australian Lyme physicians have either too many patients or are no longer able to treat).  Many simply remain ill because they cannot afford the out of pocket expenses which are incurred, living in a kind of no mans land in a first world country which accepts that the disease will severely affect animals but not humans.

The moral of this story is (as the article explains) prevention, prevention, prevention.  Be aware Lyme disease is alive and well in Australia.

Article by Anne Ryan.  Opinions in this article are mine and do not reflect the opinions of the LDAA.


In March, 2018 the LDAA published a blog on methods of tick removal by Nikki and Stephen Coleman - Methods of tick removal: A systematic review of the literature - which describes the best way to remove ticks, should you encounter them.  The conclusion reached after a systematic review of the published literature on tick removal is that the current accepted medical practice endorsed by the WHO and the CDC is to remove the tick by mechanical means as soon as possible after the tick is detected. This involves gripping the tick around the mouthparts using either fine-tipped tweezers or a reputable commercially produced tick removal tool to pull the tick away from the site of attachment. The area around the tick bite should then be thoroughly disinfected. Some methods of removal, such as applying chemicals to the tick, or injecting local anaesthetic at the attachment site, have been thoroughly discredited. A more recently suggested method of removal, of freezing the tick and allowing it to detach by itself, shows some promise, particularly with regard to preventing anaphylaxis. However more research into this method must be undertaken before it can be considered to be superior to mechanical removal methods. Until further scientific research is conducted, it is recommended that authorities continue to endorse the currently internationally accepted medical practice of mechanical removal of ticks as soon as possible, for people without diagnosed anaphylactic allergies to tick bites.