May 23, 2015
Sufferers are still fighting to have Lyme disease, contracted from ticks, recognised in Australia.
In 2013, Linda Blatt took time out from her psychology placement to visit a spiritual retreat in central California. For an ebullient week she swam in hot springs, lay down in the grass, marvelled at the Big Sur coastline.
Shortly after returning to her home in Melbourne, a rash ballooned across her arm. It was large, but didn’t hurt; Blatt figured it was a spider bite. She shrugged it off and continued to see her psychology patients.
She says the proceeding months ushered in excruciating flu-like symptoms. “I was so exhausted. I couldn’t feed myself, I couldn’t do anything. Then I started getting body-wide muscle pain … and it just escalated.”
What Blatt, now 32, didn’t realise was that her unexplained rash was remarkably similar to those first recorded in the small American town of Lyme, Connecticut, 40 years ago. Over the summer of 1975, strange symptoms broke out among the town’s children: bullseye rashes and signs of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.