What is this Lyme – Like Illness?


Let’s spotlight on Lyme disease for a second. This is a very contentious topic in Australia, and we are still learning so much. I must assert that there is still much that is unknown about this area in Australia, and investigations are currently underway. If you are interested in the discussion please visit the Parliament of Australia Final Report entitled :

Growing evidence of an emerging tick-borne disease that causes a Lyme-like illness for many Australian patients

Whilst there is a question surrounding the prevalence of Lyme disease in Australia, there has been clinical suggestion that there is some form of tick and vector borne affliction affecting thousands of Australian citizens. There is a collection of people in Australia suffering with symptoms very similar to that of the disease progression of Lyme disease. But the differential diagnosis is vast, and could be a multitude of other illnesses.

Lyme disease is considered to exist in many other countries in the world.

So, What is lyme disease?

Lyme disease occurs when transmission of the borrelia bacteria occurs in the human body via vectors like ticks. These vectors often release other nasty bugs in the process that are classified as co-infections that can be implicated in the symptom expression of Lyme – like Illness! These organisms include anaplasma,  bartonella, Mycoplasma, babesia and ehrlichia. It is a vector borne disease, that usually transmits from ticks (there is a suggestion that it is not just ticks however, possibly other vectors like mice and rats)

What a tick borne infection can look like:

  • Tick Bite – Rash around a tick area that is very itchy. In particular there can be a  characteristic “bulls eye” rash. Any kind of rash should be considered around a tick bite. The rash can also be around the body.
  • Nausea
  • Malaise
  • Muscle & joint pain and aches
  • Headache
  • Relapsing fever
  • Chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes


What is Lyme – Like Illness? 

Because it is still unknown definitively if there is an Australian type of Lyme disease, the Australian Government launched a  senate enquiry and suggested in the final report (below) that ” the term ‘Lyme-like illness’ has been used to describe a constellation of symptoms thought to be caused by a variety of tick-borne pathogens. As these symptoms are closely connected to those exhibited by patients with classical Lyme disease, the terms ‘Lyme disease’, ‘Lyme-like illness’ and ‘chronic Lyme disease’ are often used interchangeably by patients and their advocates. ”

Here is a link to the Final Report issued by the Parliament of Australia.


What can Lyme-like illness look like:

  • Headaches with unknown cause
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Anxiety
  • Diffuse joint pain that comes on sporadically without a physical trigger
  • Insomnia
  • Unexplained seizures

Sometimes however, people can present with symptoms that can look like Lyme disease, but the tests aren’t conslusive.

In these instances, we manage the symptoms.

It’s about treating the person as a WHOLE. Not necessarily a disease.

How can a Naturopath Help?

As practitioners, our approach to managing systemic infections is supportive, through identifying and supporting affected organ systems, boosting immunity, fighting infection and stimulating your natural defences + managing any associated symptoms you are experiencing. Chronic and acute systemic infection presents differently for every patient, therefore a consultation with your local General Practitioner and/or Naturopath  is useful to customise your treatment plan.

We assess your diet, lifestyle and make subsequent recommendations to improve your body’s resilience and immune response. We also use herbal and nutritional supplements for the nervous system and immune system.


Testing for Lyme Disease

For detailed information about testing, Visit the Karl Macmanus testing page.

The current testing methods employed in Australia are  flawed, as they can be sometimes unreliable to measure the full extent of a tick borne illness, hence why a clinical assessment of symptoms with a practitioner is very important to help us figure out what is going on.

What to do if you suspect that you might have Lyme disease or an associated tick borne illness:

–       Discuss the possibility with your local GP or Naturopath.

–       Contact the Lyme Disease association of Australia for guidance and support.

For further support and information

Lyme Disease Association of Australia

Karl Macmanus Foundation 




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