Lyme disease is a tick-borne infection caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, sore muscles and joints, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans.
Although locally-acquired Lyme disease cannot be ruled out there is no evidence that it occurs in Australia. There is a continuing risk to people travelling overseas in places where Lyme disease is endemic.
Clinicians should consider Lyme disease in patients with a clinically-consistent illness.
A recent Australian study of bacteria carried by ticks published in the journal Parasites and Vectors (Inhibition of the endosymbiont "Candidatus Midichloria mitochondrii" during 16S rRNA gene profiling reveals potential pathogens in Ixodes ticks from Australia) has demonstrated a new blocking primer technique that can be used to detect bacterial DNA from ticks.
While no Lyme disease associated bacteria were found in 196 Australian ticks (all collected in NSW), the research team showed that the technique allowed ready detection of Lyme disease bacterial DNA in ticks from Germany.
For further information contact your local public health unit on 1300 066 055.