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Lyme disease warning found

AN OFFICIAL document from the Queensland Department of Health in 1990 has surfaced, warning that lyme disease was likely to become a problem in Australia.

But the government maintains there is "little evidence" of lyme disease in Australia.

In the 1990 document, Queensland Department of Health Director of Environmental and Occupational Health Dr Ron Ramm said doctors may not be recognising the disease.

"He urges early treatment of tick bites where a rash manifests. Treatment includes intravenous penicillin and other antibiotics," the document said.

"While to-date only four clinical cases of lyme disease have been recorded in Australia, the disease is known to spread rapidly and of 488 people sera tested for the disease in Queensland (in 1989), 40% tested positive."

The document said lyme disease was caused by an organism, borrelia, transmitted by the common bush tick.

Queensland Health Communicable Diseases Unit acting senior director Dr Heidi Carroll said they could not comment on Dr Ramm's statement, given the time that had passed.

"We reiterate that the borrelia bacterium has never been isolated from a tick in Australia; however further research is ongoing research investigating this disease," she said.

"I understand however, the bacterium which causes lyme disease, borrelia burgdorferi, has never been isolated from a patient who has not been out of Australia, nor has it ever been isolated from a tick within Australia."- Nicole Fuge

Topics:  lyme disease

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