The State of Lyme Disease in Australia
Unfortunately Australia seems to have it’s head in the sand when it comes to Lyme disease. Health authorities state that there isn’t enough evidence to prove that Australian ticks carry Lyme bacteria or it’s co-infections. And yet there seem to be more and more patients presenting with symptoms and responding well to treatment.
Thankfully it seems as if the tide could slowly be starting to turn.In May this year (2013) a clinical advisory committee was instructed by Chief Medical officer Chris Baggoley to look into Lyme disease. This could be a very boring and bureaucratic way of saying ‘we’re not changing our minds’.But hopefully it will shake things up a bit and lead to more treatment options for Australians.
Awareness has been steadily rising since the death of media personality Karl Mcmanus and the advocacy work done by the foundation with his name. Sadly a young Australian woman recently euthanised herself after living with extreme Lyme related symptoms for many years and not finding the care she required. Tennis star Sam Stosur also contracted Lyme and successfully received treatment in the US, this is a bonus for Lyme awareness because as all true Aussies know, we love our sporting champions!
So where can you turn for help in Australia?
I’ve put together a small selection of practitioners I’ve come across in my research. It is by no means a complete list and I will add names to the list as they come up. Like most Lyme practitioners around the world I’m sure each one will have their own particular approach to treatment. Some will favour antibiotics, some will use a more botanical approach and others will combine the two.
Doctor Nicola McFadzean Ducharme (ND) – Dr. Nicola M. Ducharme is native to Australia (like the Snub Nosed Wallaby and Spotted Quoll) yet resides in San Diego where she runs a health clinic. She trained at Bastyr University in the US (one of the worlds leading Naturopathic Programs) and is the Medical Advisor to the Lyme Disease Association of Australia. I believe she visits Australia twice a year to treat patients.
Doctor Andrew Ladhams (MD) – Doctor. Andrew Ladhams is a G.P, immunologist and virologist based in Maleny, QLD. With a background in treating CFS Andrew found that a number of patients tested positive for Lyme and responded well to treatment. It seems the rest is history. He has a cool website if that counts for anything.
Doctor Gull Herzberg (MD) – Doctor Gull Herzberg is based in Belligen in NSW and from what I hear he has a very full patient list. Word on the grape vine is that he has been trained overseas through ILADS after receiving sponsorship from the Karl McManus foundation, how ever I haven’t verified this fact.
John Coleman (ND) – John Coleman is based in Lancefield, Victoria (a little country town close to where my Mum lives would you believe). He cured himself from Parkinsons disease (check this interview) and wrote a book called Stop Parkin’ Start Livin’. He uses a wide range of natural therapies and favours the use of the Byron White Formulas.
Dr Peter Mayne (MD) – Dr. Mayne has been involved with the treatment of Lyme disease in Australia for over 20 years. He has just helped to launch the brand new Sydney Lyme Clinic but also travels around Australia to see patients. He is also an ILADs trained Doctor.
Is It Worth Travelling Overseas for treatment?
Until recently leaving Australia to receive comprehensive treatment for Lyme disease seemed inevitable. But now that there are various options for professional care Down Under, the question remains, is it still worth the huge expense and effort of travelling to Europe or the US for treatment in one of the better known clinics?
Obviously this is a personal decision, but in my experience the stability and ease provided by a (relatively) local practitioner can in many cases outweigh the turbulence involved with seeking better care overseas. The long distance travel, jet lag, contraint on the number of consultations and international phone call follow ups all require alot of time, energy and money to manage. When weighing up these options it is wise to factor in all the hidden costs and the emotional turmoil of medical travel. Having no-one around to hold your hand after surgery or a series of intense I.V’s can be character building stuff.
However there is always a happy balance, you can consult with a local doctor and still look for advice and mentorship from experts around the globe. In essence creating your own dream team of practitioners and placing you in the centre of it all, as at the end of the day your research, commitment and discipline will be what makes the difference.
I’ve been living outside of Australia since I received my diagnosis of Lyme in 2012. None of the many Doctors or Naturopaths I consulted even mentioned Lyme in the 10 years I was looking for answers for my CFS/ME in Australia. But I’m glad to see there are some capable practitioners on the front lines and will I no doubt get to know them better once I return back the sunburnt country.
- Here is a link to a page dispelling various myths around Lyme disease in Australia
- This is the website of the Karl McManus foundation who are doing a great job to raise awareness.