About tick bite–associated illness in Australia

Some Australians suffer from the symptoms of a chronic debilitating illness, which many associate with a tick bite. We describe this group as having Debilitating Symptom Complexes Attributed to Ticks (DSCATT).

Tick bite diseases in Australia

Australian ticks can cause illness, including Rickettsial infections, Q fever, allergic reactions, paralysis and mammalian meat allergy. 

Lyme disease in Australia

Lyme disease is commonly found in parts of the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Asia. Visitors to these areas can become infected and return to Australia with Lyme disease. Australian healthcare providers can readily diagnose and treat Lyme disease. You cannot give Lyme disease to someone else.  

People can get Lyme disease if they are bitten by a tick carrying Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Scientists have not found Borrelia burgdorferi in Australian ticks, or any other Australian insect that could pass the disease to humans (called a vector).  

For this reason, the Australian Government does not support the diagnosis of locally acquired Lyme disease. Instead, it recognises that a group of patients experience debilitating symptom complexes that some people attribute to ticks. We call this DSCATT. 

Debilitating Symptom Complexes Attributed to Ticks (DSCATT)

DSCATT is a term used to describe symptoms of a chronic debilitating illness associated with a tick bite. The most common symptoms DSCATT patients report include: 

  • fatigue 

  • disordered thinking 

  • sensory disturbance 

  • joint pain 

  • headache.  

Support for people with DSCATT

We are committed to supporting people with DSCATT and their healthcare providers.  

Learn more about how we support people with DSCATT.  

See what we’re doing about DSCATT and tick-related illness

Date last updated:

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