Lyme Disease

The Australian Government is monitoring Lyme disease, in consultation with the states and territories, through the Communicable Diseases Network Australia.

Page last updated: 01 July 2014

The Australian Government Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Baggoley, has established a Clinical Advisory Committee on Lyme disease to provide him with advice on the evidence for Lyme disease in Australia, diagnostic testing, treatment and research requirements. The Committee will also provide advice on the most appropriate ways to disseminate information to health professionals and the general public.

Clinical Advisory Committee on Lyme Disease (CACLD)

Terms of Reference

The purpose of the CACLD is to provide advice to the Chief Medical Officer on:

  1. the extent to which there is evidence of Borrelia spp causing illness in humans in Australia
  2. the most appropriate laboratory diagnostic testing algorithms (best world practice) for persons who have suspected borreliosis in Australia
  3. the most appropriate treatments for borreliosis in Australia
  4. the most appropriate ways to disseminate information to health professionals and the general public on borreliosis/Lyme disease
  5. the requirements for further research into borreliosis in Australia, and
  6. the generation of appropriate new questions relevant to the terms of reference.

Membership

The committee has representation from the following organisations:

  • Australian Government Department of Health
  • Karl McManus Foundation
  • Lyme Disease Association of Australia
  • Public Health Laboratory Network
  • Communicable Diseases Network Australia
  • NSW Health
  • Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia
  • Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
  • National Health and Medical Research Council
  • Australian Society for Infectious Diseases
  • An Australian and International Expert
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Meeting Outcomes

Meeting 1

The Committee met on 19 March 2013 with the following outcomes:

  1. Suggested terms of reference for the Clinical Advisory Committee on Lyme disease to be re-drafted to incorporate members’ comments.
  2. A Lyme disease patient advocate to be invited to participate on the CACLD.
  3. More information regarding borreliosis in Australia is required in order to understand the requirements to resolve issues detailed in the committee’s terms of reference. Each member of the committee will be contacted out of session to discuss issues arising about borreliosis in Australia, which will assist the development of a discussion paper on Lyme borreliosis.
  4. Research requirements for borreliosis in Australia to be addressed at the next CACLD meeting.
Meeting 2

The Committee met on 28 May 2013 with the following outcomes:

  1. Terms of Reference to be re-drafted to incorporate members' comments (endorsed terms of reference above).
  2. The Committee noted the outcomes of the committee consultations (outcome 3 from previous meeting) on:
    • the existence of Lyme disease in Australia
    • the members' perspective on the diagnostic pathway for Lyme disease in Australia
    • the members' perspective on treatment options for Lyme disease in Australia.
Meeting 3

The Committee met on 3 September 2013 with the following outcomes:

  1. Members were provided with an update on the progress of the scoping study being conducted to identify the research needs for an investigation into whether a causative tick-borne microorganism for Lyme disease exists in Australia.
  2. Members received an update on current research being conducted on ticks at the Murdoch University and potential collaborations and assistance was discussed.
  3. Members discussed a diagnostic pathway in the context of recent publications comparing North American and European testing approaches. Members agreed to continue this discussion out of session.
Meeting 4

The Committee met on 27 November 2013 with the following outcomes:

  1. The scoping study for research to identify and characterise an indigenous causative microorganism for Lyme-like disease in Australia and its vector to be placed on the Department of Health’s website and comments to be invited. The study will also be provided to Chief Health Officers and the National Health and Medical Research Council.
  2. A report on the first meeting of the Diagnostic Pathway Working Group was provided to members.
  3. The Department of Health will investigate organising a Diagnostic Forum and a Clinical Round Table meeting in the first half of 2014.
  4. Members acknowledged that the work of the CACLD will extend into 2014.
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Consultations

A summary of the committee consultations (outcome 3 from Meeting 1) titled CACLD Discussion Paper on Lyme Disease can be accessed below.

Advice to Clinicians

Scoping Study

The Department of Health contracted an expert in microbiology to conduct a Scoping Study to identify the research needs for an investigation into whether a causative tick borne microorganism for Lyme disease exists in Australia.

The Scoping Study can be accessed below.

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Lyme Disease Treatment Round Table

The Department of Health hosted the Lyme Disease Treatment Round Table Meeting on Tuesday 27 May 2014. The outcomes can be accessed below:

Research Funding

Advice provided by the CACLD, recommendations from the Scoping Study, and outcomes from the Lyme Disease Round Table Meeting have revealed potential research projects that would clarify the Lyme disease situation in Australia.

The majority of Australian Government health and medical research funding is administered by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The Australian Research Council (ARC) has funded some Special Research Initiatives in the health and medical areas however the ARC does not generally fund medical research. The ARC Medical Research Policy is available on the ARC web site. Researchers may also seek other avenues for funding including the higher education sector, business sector or the private non-profit sector. The Department of Health is not a research funding agency.

NHMRC

The Project Grant scheme is the NHMRC's main avenue of support for individuals and small teams of researchers undertaking biomedical, clinical, public health or health services research in Australian universities, medical schools, hospitals or other research institutions. The Project Grants scheme aims to fund research leading to improved health of all Australians. To achieve this aim the scheme provides support for projects with the following attributes:

  • Investigator initiated research across all fields of research, from basic research through to research in clinical and community settings, relevant to health; and
  • single investigators or small teams of researchers (up to 10 investigators) and early career researchers (new investigators).

All applications undergo a competitive peer-review process and project grant rounds usually start in December each year. Further information is available on the NHMRC website.

ARC

The ARC funds research and researchers under the National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP). As part of its commitment to nurturing the creative abilities and skills of Australia's most promising researchers, the NCGP provides:

  • support for the highest-quality research leading to the discovery of new ideas and the advancement of knowledge
  • financial assistance towards facilities and equipment that researchers need to be internationally competitive
  • support for the training and skills development of the next generation of researchers
  • incentives for Australia’s most talented researchers to work in partnership with leading researchers throughout the national innovation system and internationally, and to form alliances with Australian industry

Department of Health Media Statement

The Department of Health issued a media statement on Lyme Disease in Australia following several requests from the public and media outlets - a copy can be accessed below:

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