The Clinical Advisory Committee on Lyme Disease (CACLD) wound up in 2014, but representatives still gather on an ad-hoc basis from time to time. Yesterday the CACLD committee met to hear from Peter Irwin RE: his research. The committee were also briefed on how the Department of Health (DoH) have been proceeding, in regards to Lyme disease and Lyme-like illness in Australia. The LDAA were represented at the meeting (as the patient representative). Here are our highlights:
Peter Irwin recapped of his recent published research and briefed on what’s next for his team, research will now focus on analysing more ticks in a wider geographical area (the previous paper looked at ticks in a relatively small area) to see if the organisms found are rare or more widespread.
Discussion about the potential for ‘Candidatus Neoehrlichia’ to be pathogenic (causing disease in humans) in Australia. It potentially could be what is making so many people sick with a Lyme-like illness (the pathogen was present in such high numbers of the ticks sampled). Testing for this will be available for all symptomatic patients in the coming months. An announcement will be made when this new testing will be available.
Overseas acquired Lyme disease: the DoH hopes to release their diagnostic guidelines for overseas acquired Lyme disease, around August in the Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO’s) annual report to GPs. The guidelines are still being approved by the various national health committees.
The DoH is keen to support the prevention of tick-borne disease and is working on a tick removal methods policy. This policy is awaiting the publication of research to confirm the scientific validity of the removal methods. When this research is published, and the tick removal policy is approved by the state health jurisdictions, the DoH will release the policy nationally. They are considering how best to educate the public and medical practitioners on preventing and avoiding tick-borne disease.
The DoH has sourced funding for its study comparing different lab results for Lyme disease in Australia – hopefully this will return answers to Australian patients, as to why they can test negative in one lab and positive in another.
860 postcards from the Lyme Postcard Campaign were forwarded on to the CMO, Professor Chris Baggoley. According to the CMO, the Lyme Postcard Campaign during May has made a big impact on parliamentarians, who are now better informed about Lyme in Australia and are keen to help their constituents to get well.