Researchers at Murdoch University have published findings on a novel species of Borellia in the ticks of echidnas, providing some encouragement for Australian Lyme disease sufferers seeking to have the disease recognised by local medical practitioners.

Currently, the Lyme disease-causing Borrelia burgdorferi, has not been found in Australian ticks, yet growing evidence of a ‘Lyme-like’ disease has sparked senate inquiry into the matter.

Researchers confirmed the presence of another species of Borrelia in the ticks of echidnas found in both NSW and Queensland, finding it in 38 of the 97 echidna ticks. No evidence of Borrelia was found in the Victorian ticks analysed.

John Madigan, the independent senator who led the senate inquiry into the ‘Lyme-like’ disease earlier this year, said in a statement that the news offers hope for Australians who believe they’ve contracted the debilitating illness, but remain undiagnosed due to the disease’s lack of recognition from the medical fraternity.

“This latest research suggests what many Australians have suspected and that is, that Australian ticks may be responsible for making thousands of Australians sick with a Lyme-like illness.”

The authors of the paper have stated that it’s yet to be determined whether the Borrelia found in the echidna ticks could cause illness in humans.

To find out more about Lyme disease in Australia, read our Exclusive on the topic, written by Alexander Robey, in issue 154 of Wild.