Australian toddlers denied critical healthcare in ‘political show of strength’

Children as young as 2 have been denied urgent healthcare for a bacterial infection due to the Department of Health’s political stance on what has been described as ‘the silent pandemic’.

Despite thousands of Australian patients having evidence of Borrelia burgdorferi infection, commonly known as ‘Lyme Disease’, they are unable to get access to help. One child was recently refused treatment by a Brisbane Public Hospital after a tick-bite in the inner-south of the city.

A tell-tale red rash indicative of the infection was visible, but doctors did not identify it correctly. When blood tests later confirmed that the child had acquired Lyme Disease locally, the same hospital refused to treat the child for the infection.

Timing is critical in the treatment of Lyme Disease. If antibiotics are not given within weeks of the infection, the bacteria can establish themselves long-term throughout the body, leading to disability and potentially death.  

According to the Department of Health, Australian patients may only receive a positive Lyme Disease diagnosis if they have clinical and diagnostic evidence, as well as evidence of infection spread in the community. The Department of Health does not count cases of Lyme in Australia – and therefore evidence of infection spread in the community does not exist – making it impossible for patients to receive a correct diagnosis.

Australian doctors have been placed on alert too, with the Department of Health directing GPs that they must not test for Lyme Disease in any patient who hasn’t travelled overseas. Many Australian patients have been crippled by the disease and some have died from its complications. Patients who have been disabled by the infection do not have access to government support, and are now being left stranded without basic medical care.