Following several Freedom of Information requests to NSW Health the Lyme Disease Association of Australia was able to obtain information on how the "review" into Lyme Disease in Australia was conducted by NSW Health in April 2011. Some highlights from our investigation
- the review panel met once, for a total of 2 hours, to review whether there is Lyme Disease in Australia.
- the review panel did not examine all the scientific evidence for the presence of Lyme Disease in Australia - only the work of Russell and Doggett from 1994 was discussed and as Richard Russell was on the review panel, he was effectively re-presenting his own research, although the same "courtesy" was not given to other Lyme disease researchers, even those with much more up to date research.
- the review panel looked at questionaires given over the phone to 8 patients of 1 doctor in NSW. Their medical records were not examined.
- because the patients blood test results came from a non NATA accredited laboratory, they were completely dismissed.
- the final outcome of the "review" was that there was no conclusive evidence for Lyme Disease in Australia (but a 2 hour meeting could hardly determine this). The review panel decided to write new diagnosis, treatment and testing guidelines regarding Lyme Disease in Australia based on the American CDC guidelines - which are largely based on the controversial IDSA guidelines which have been the focus of numerous legal challenges, and have been dismissed by the UK and German Lyme Disease Associations as inappropriate for Lyme Disease sufferers outside of the USA.
All in all we give this "review" panel an F grade for conducting a thorough investigation into the state of Lyme Disease in Australia. Australian lyme patients deserve MUCH better than this - reviews such as this continue to perpetuate the myth that Lyme Disease is not in Australia, which is putting the health of all Australian Lyme sufferers at risk. Shame on you NSW Health for such a pathetic attempt at a white wash. We hope that the national review into Lyme Disease will be conducted more thoroughly, but given that they were attempting to do the review in secret we do not hold up much hope.