Dapto’s Chris Weber is going to Germany for controversial blood filtering treatment because his debilitating disease is not recognised by the Australian government.
Lyme disease – a bacterial infection caused by ticks – had plagued the father-of-two for six years before he received a diagnosis last year.
Now the 25-year-old has pinned his hopes of a cure on treatment at the St Georg Klinik in Munich later this month, where his body will be heated up to 42 degrees to kill the bacteria in his blood.
He said he had been forced to seek international assistance because the government would not fund treatment for the disease, which is not recognised by many doctors either.
Mr Weber believes he contracted the disease from a tick bite on holiday in Sussex Inlet in 2009, and his condition has steadily worsened.
‘’My symptoms include chronic fatigue, debilitating headaches, hand tremors and sensitivity to noise, light and heat,’’ he said. ‘’I was told by doctors that it was all in my head and I nearly gave up a number of times but then it got so bad that I knew I had to find an answer. I searched online and when I saw the symptoms of Lyme disease, I knew that’s what I had.’’
Fortunately Mr Weber also found Sydney Lyme disease specialist Dr Peter Dobie last year, who helped diagnose and treat his illness with antibiotics. However what he wants is to be cured of the illness, and so he will head off to Germany on February 26 to undergo the hyperthermia treatment followed by a six-month course of antibiotics. He’s been told it will get worse before it, hopefully, gets better.
‘’I just want that chance to live my life normally, to play with my kids, play sport,’’ he said. ‘’There’s a chance it won’t work but I have to try.’’
Dr Dobie told the Mercury that the German treatment was ‘’not a miracle cure’’. ‘’It works for some patients, but for others it doesn’t work that well at all.’’
He said it was estimated there were ‘’several thousand’’ Australians living with Lyme disease.
‘’The disease is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia which humans pick up primarily from tick bites,’’ Dr Dobie said. ‘’It’s common in Europe and North America but is controversial in Australia with most doctors under the impression that you can’t get it here.’’
However Dr Dobie said lobbying from the public had led to a senate inquiry into ‘’Lyme-like illness’’ being set up in Australia last year. ‘’Experts expect this to lead to increased recognition of Lyme disease in Australia.’’
Mr Weber and his partner Taisha Thompson hope a Go Fund Me drive and a fundraiser at Dapto Citizen’s bowling club on February 14 will help them raise funds for the treatment.