A step in the right direction for those living with debilitating conditions linked to tick bites, after the Federal Government announced this week the first major funding injection into investigating the often-unusual cluster of symptoms associated with tick bites, including fatigue, arthritis, chronic pain, neurological and cardiac problems, and psychological illness.

A total of three million dollars will be funnelled towards two major studies over the next five years, in hopes to discern the nature, prevalence, and cause of tick-borne infections and ultimately develop accurate diagnostics and treatment for children and adults living with DSCATT (debilitating symptom complexes attributed to ticks).

To date there is limited understanding of what symptoms can be attributed to tick bites. In other parts of the world, it has been recognised that ticks carry infectious organisms that compromise people’s health. The funding supporting Australian studies will help determine, of the 16 tick species that are known to bite humans in Australia, whether these small creatures are the cause of the array of symptoms thought to be associated with the infectious organisms carried by these tick bites.

Lyme disease is an infectious illness thought to be caused by a bacterium known as Borrelia, contracted when an individual is bitten by a tick. Lyme disease is thought to potentially impact multiple bodily organs and systems resulting in symptoms affecting the muscles, joints, organs, brain, gastro-intestinal and neurological systems.

There is considerable controversy within the medical profession, both nationally and internationally, in nearly all aspects of Lyme disease.

Despite a rapid rise in the numbers of Australians diagnosed with Lyme, within the Australian medical community, the prevailing viewpoint is that “there is no evidence of Lyme disease in Australia, based on a study conducted in 1994 that failed to detect Borrelia in Australian ticks, despite other researchers since having found evidence that Australian ticks do carry the Borrelia bacteria.

Based on biannual statistics collected by the Lyme Disease Association of Australia (LDAA) since 2011, 2,126 individuals reported to have contracted Lyme disease.

The new research by Murdoch University and University of Melbourne, set to kick off in 2019, will hopefully result in improvements to standardised diagnostic testing, correct diagnoses and a definition that includes more than one strain of Borrelia to pave the way to offering solace to those living with symptoms potentially associated with a tick bite.

Find out more at LDAA.