Lyme disease (borreliosis) is a bacterial infection carried primarily by ticks. Humans can be infected by a tick bite. The disease is a growing epidemic, particularly in North America, Europe and Australia.
Dr Dobie is a member of ILADS (INTERNATIONAL LYME AND ASSOCIATED DISEASES SOCIETY), the pre-eminent international organisation of doctors who treat Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is named after the town of Lyme, in Connecticut, USA, where the illness was first recognised.
There is now abundant evidence that Lyme disease can be acquired in Australia, and
it is likely that there are many thousands of undiagnosed cases in this country.
Early symptoms of Lyme disease, occurring in the first two or three weeks after a tick bite, can include a skin rash (called a “bull’s–eye” rash), flu-like symptoms, joint pains, swollen lymph nodes, fever and headache.
If left untreated Lyme disease can develop into a chronic infection with a wide variety of symptoms affecting every organ system, including the heart and brain. Chronic Lyme disease can mimic the symptoms of many other illnesses.
Lyme disease is diagnosed primarily on the basis of a patient’s symptoms, as the infection does not always show up on blood tests.
Lyme disease is controversial for many reasons. One reason for the controversy relates to the type of blood tests used. Doctors unfamiliar with Lyme disease rely on a test known as the ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) test, but this test is not sensitive enough to detect most cases of Lyme disease.
Testing for Lyme disease should be done at specialised laboratories. There are only two laboratories in Australia that do the correct testing for Lyme disease. Blood specimens can also be sent to the USA and Germany.
Because Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, the main Lyme disease treatment is antibiotics. Occasionally the antibiotics need to be given intravenously.
Most patients with Lyme disease have what is known as “co-infections”. This is because ticks often carry other infections in addition to the Borrelia bacteria that cause Lyme disease. These “co-infections” include Babesia, Bartonella, Rickettsia, Ehrlichia and Mycoplasma. Antibiotic Lyme disease treatment needs to cover these infections as well as the Lyme disease.
Dr Peter Dobie in Australia is a Specialist in Lyme disease treatment, his approach of treating Lyme disease includes
- herbal medicines
- nutritional supplements
- dietary advice.