Lyme borreliosis (Lyme disease) is an infectious illness caused by Borrelia bacteria, a spirochete bacterium found in the stomach of ticks and transmitted to humans by tick bite.
There are currently 29 genospecies of pathogenic Borrelia with B. burgdorferi, the most commonly recognised strain that causes disease in humans and usually found in North America. Other causative strains including B. afezelii and B. garinii are more common in Europe, Asia and the rest of the world.
There has been considerable debate about the existence of Lyme disease in Australia. The current guidelines suggest that although locally-acquired Lyme borreliosis cannot be ruled out, there is little evidence that it occurs in Australia.
These guidelines are based on a 1994 study, in which researchers attempted to identify the causative organism of Lyme disease in Australia from possible tick vectors. They processed approximately 12,000 ticks for the presence of B.burgdorferi over two years and found no evidence of its existence. The researchers concluded that there was no evidence of the existence of B. burgdorferi, the causative agent for Lyme disease. Limitations of the study included the number of ticks tested- 1,038 of the collected ticks, as well as the assumption that only one tick genospecies, B. burgdorferi, causes Lyme disease.
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