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  • Lyme disease 'conspiracy' claims hit AHPRA

    Author: AAP

A growing number of Australians who have never left the country believe they have a disease that medical experts insist cannot be contracted in Australia.

Six years ago, Stephanie Hammersley came down with the flu. She never recovered.

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Her career, social life, health and wellbeing are gone, claimed by a disease medical experts insist cannot be contracted in Australia - the tick-borne Lyme disease.

"Most of us feel like we've got the worst flu of our lives with the worst hangover of our lives on top of it, and it never goes away," she said.

"If you've got cancer, family and friends tend to rally around you.


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"Lyme is completely different - I've lost all of my friends."

Ms Hammersley was initially diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, but tested positive for Lyme in the US two years ago.

She says there are just two doctors in Perth treating Lyme, with others fearful of being targeted by authorities.

"There just seems to be some sort of conspiracy.

"Even the ones who are treating are becoming more and more cautious about the tests they request, the scripts they provide, because they know they're on the blacklist.

"Even though they're open-minded and willing to acknowledge it and support you, they're actually pulling back in what they'll offer."

Ms Hammersley may have contracted the disease overseas, but many sufferers insist they've never left Australia.

A Senate inquiry instigated by independent senator John Madigan is investigating the existence of Lyme-like illness in Australia, receiving 190 submissions since November.

The stories are similar - from the suicidal thoughts to the dismissive doctors.

Senator Madigan believes doctors treating Lyme are being targeted by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, creating medical refugees out of thousands of Australians forced to go overseas for treatment.

He's instigated another Senate inquiry investigating harassment and bullying in the medical profession and urged Health Minister Sussan Ley to "rein in her AHPRA attack dog".

Australia's chief medical officer Chris Baggoley denied doctors were being targeted during Senate estimates last week, insisting authorities were obliged to investigate complaints by members of the profession or public.

Research is being done into Lyme but there is no conclusive evidence of a causative agent in Australia, he says.

A Perth GP, who does not want to be named for fear the Medical Board of Australia will try and stop him treating Lyme, says he has diagnosed 1000 people with the disease, 15 per cent of who have never left Australia.

He says there could be as many as seven million Australians suffering Lyme with "excellent" evidence to prove its existence here, but believes acknowledging it would be too expensive for the government.

Palmer United Party senator Zhenya Wang believes the medical profession is being narrow-minded and the government is moving slowly.

"It's not like they're trying to be completely blind on this issue but it's quite frustrating to see how slow this big machine moves," he told AAP.

Patients lucky enough to find a doctor willing to refer them for testing then have their referrals ignored by pathologists, or specialists that refuse to treat them, he said.


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