Lyme disease is caused by bacteria transmitted in a tick bite and is usually marked by body aches, fever and fatigue that doctors often write off as the flu, says Dr Ahn, a clinical instructor at NYU Langone Health in the US. And it’s easy to see why: the body doesn’t have time to develop the antibodies that signal the disease until a few weeks after the bite, meaning blood tests won’t reveal it. The symptoms can disappear temporarily, so see if your doctor will give you a one-time antibiotic if you suspect Lyme, suggests Dr Ahn. “If you miss it and continue to miss it, the long-term effects of Lyme could be debilitating,” he says.
Although medical authorities in Australia deny Lyme disease can be caught in the country, growing numbers of Australians claim to have contracted it locally. However, Sharon Whiteman, from Lyme Disease Association Australia, said greater resources and research needed to be dedicated to the condition to better understand it.
“Even the most vocal ‘No Lyme disease in Australia’ medical professionals agree that Australian ticks carry a plethora of pathogens, most not researched in humans. The problem isn’t lack of evidence, it’s lack of prioritised research,” she told the ABC in 2016.
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