A HERVEY Bay woman has told how she spent $50,000 and 20 years fighting for a Lyme disease diagnosis as her health deteriorated, while doctors still deny the condition can be contracted in Australia.
Joy Daniel is one of two Fraser Coast women who fear the government's "nonchalant attitude" towards Lyme disease and lack of awareness about the tick-borne illness could cripple people's health.
Ms Daniel and Maryborough's Anaree Nelson were both diagnosed with the disease after years of suffering.
Both women say they contracted the tick-borne illness locally despite a Queensland Health representative saying all confirmed cases were diagnosed in travellers returning from overseas.
"I lived near Palm Beach in the 90s, an area known to be filled with ticks and I started developing severe food allergies, chronic fatigue and brain fog," Ms Nelson said.
It was only a couple of years ago she was diagnosed with having Lyme disease by a doctor on the Sunshine Coast.
By then she couldn't even get out of bed but was now recovering with homeopathy treatments.
"I was given antibiotics by the doctor for a while but he stopped prescribing after getting orders from the Health Department," the Maryborough woman said.
Hervey Bay resident Joy Daniel spent $50,000 for more than 20 years trying to find answers for her ill health.
"I was full of life and had an active lifestyle," she said.
"It was in the late 80s when I suddenly fell ill after a visit to my sister's place in Aberdeen, New South Wales.
"I had blinding headaches, stiff neck, itchy skin, a rash on my thigh and chronic pain and swelling in both knees.
"My knees made walking any distance impossible causing me to be bed ridden.
After a series of blood tests, doctors in Brisbane could not give her any diagnosis and one even suggested she see a psychologist to make sure the pain she was feeling was real.
Years later in 1990, Joy took the advice of a Sydney orthopaedic surgeon and a specialist in infectious diseases from Sydney both of whom diagnosed her with having Lyme disease based on the symptoms and the deterioration of the cartilage of both her knees and she eventually received two total knee replacements.
"A blood test revealed I had a bacteria similar to those found in serum of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome sufferers and many tests after that, I was confirmed of having high positive Lyme results," she said.
"I later found out that loss of cartilage and joint inflammation particularly in the knees is a classic sign of Lyme disease."
With chelation, heat treatment, acupuncture plus every other well-known therapy and the necessary antibiotics, Joy is now on the road to recovery.
A Queensland Health representative said the conclusive finding of the bacterial species that could cause a Lyme Disease-like syndrome in Australia had yet to be made.
Such a finding would put beyond doubt the existence of Lyme disease, or a Lyme disease-like syndrome in Australia.
President of the Lyme Disease Association of Australia Susan Whiteman said it had been speculated that other vectors could be involved in the transmission of the disease but for now it was known to be spread by ticks which carried the Borrelia bacteria which was associated with the disease.
"Based on our surveys, 70% of those affected with the disease don't remember getting a tick bite," she said.
"It doesn't affect all but anyone who gets bitten should look out for classic fatigue symptoms and ask your doctor to get tested for Lyme disease."
- Visual disturbances
- Joint pain
- Memory problems
- Cognitive confusion
For more information, visit the Lyme Disease Association of Australia's website lymedisease.org.au.