Doctors reluctant over Lucy's rare illness linked to deers

LUCY McGrail should be out having the time of her life like any other 18-year-old.

But weighing less than 40kg, the Cooroy teenager (pictured) has little energy to move much further than from her bed to a wheelchair.

She was diagnosed with arthritis seven years ago, but her condition has worsened in recent months, prompting her family to seek a second opinion.

Lucy's father, Gary, said the family believed her condition to be Lyme disease.

"She was misdiagnosed by doctors who weren't too keen on recognising it as Lyme disease," he said.

"Because the disease isn't recognised in Australia, it can be a very scary thing for doctors to diagnose."

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread through the bite of the black-legged tick.

The tick is usually found in deer in America, but Mr McGrail believes Lucy has been bitten during a camping trip.

"We think she was bitten while we were camping at a deer park here in Queensland," he said.

"The frustrating thing is that if she was diagnosed properly seven years ago, it could have been fixed."

As the disease is not recognised in Australia, Lucy does not qualify for government funding.

With a monthly medical bill of $1500, Mr McGrail said ongoing costs were taking a significant financial toll on the family.

"Treatment is available in the USA, Germany and Bali, which can cost up to $35,000, and even then, there's no assurances," he said.

"We had to import our own testing kit from America,

administered by Lucy's doctor, which was sent for testing in Sydney.

"We got a positive result, but still, doctors won't recognise it as Lyme disease."

Australian Medical Association federal council member Wayne Herdy was reluctant to talk about the presence of Lyme disease in Australia, preferring to acknowledge the complexities of the condition.

"There is no conclusive evidence that Lyme disease exists in Australia," he said.

Lucy admitted everyday activities were becoming progressively tougher.

"My day starts with Mum dragging me out of bed, and if I'm on my own, it takes me about two hours to get dressed," she said.

A fundraising Ride for Lucy will be held on November 17, starting from Boreen Point's Apollonian Hotel.

Help Lucy

WHAT: The Ride for Lucy starts at the Apollonian Hotel at Boreen Point

WHEN: November 17 at 8am

WHAT: Lucy's Limelight Fundraiser at the Pomona Demons AFL Club

WHEN: November 24 from noon

CONTACT: Birgit Kehr on 0438 177 807

Topics:  cooroy lyme disease

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