What we are doing about tick bite–associated illnesses

We are working to better understand Debilitating Symptom Complexes Attributed to Ticks (DSCATT) and tick-borne diseases in Australia.

Senate inquiry

In 2016 the Senate referred the issue of growing evidence for an emerging tick-borne illness in Australia to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee for investigation.

You can read its final report.

We published a response to the senate inquiry in 2016. We continue to progress work to address the report’s recommendations.

Tick survey

In 2019 we engaged the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to conduct a tick survey.

The survey looked at the types of bacteria and viruses Australian ticks carry and the impacts they have on human health.

CSIRO completed the tick survey in July 2021 and the published results are available on the Wiley Online Library.

Biobank

In 2019 we engaged CSIRO to build a biobank of samples from DSCATT patients.

CSIRO can then analyse these samples to identify possible indicators of disease.

CSIRO also completed the biobank in July 2021 and we have published the preliminary findings.

Research

We have engaged CSIRO to expand on the findings of the tick survey and tick biobank projects. This research project is underway with results expected at the end of 2023.

The Australian Government also supports research into DSCATT and tick-borne illness in Australia through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

In 2018 the Government provided $3 million to the NHMRC to fund research into the nature, prevalence and causes of DSCATT.

Professor Peter Irwin from Murdoch University is conducting research to determine the causes of DSCATT.

Professor Richard Kanaan at Melbourne University is undertaking a research project to develop a new treatment for DSCATT.

Historical information

Our archived website contains details of previous work we have done to better understand DSCATT and tick-borne diseases.

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