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Legal Action over Lyme Disease Case

Kate Benson

A SYDNEY woman will launch a class action against New South Wales health authorities after autopsy results showed her husband was riddled with a disease the Health Department says does not exist in Australia.

The results from Karl McManus, 44 - who died in July after being bitten by a tick while filming the television show Home and Away in northern Sydney - indicate he had bacteria from Lyme disease in his liver, heart, kidney and lungs.

Tissue samples will now be sent to the University of Sydney and to laboratories in the US for more testing. "If there is duplication of results, the government cannot dispute [that Lyme exists in Australia]," his wife, Mualla Akinci, said.

Mr McManus, from Turramurra, was originally diagnosed with multifocal neuropathy after testing negative at an Australian laboratory for Lyme disease, but another two tests carried out in the US and Germany returned positive.

NSW Health maintains that the organisms which cause Lyme disease - three species of the genus borrelia - are not carried here by wildlife, livestock or their parasites. It says anyone with the illness must have caught it overseas. Ms Akinci is adamant Mr McManus was bitten by a Lyme-infested tick in Waratah Park.

Ms Akinci has already garnered support from two other sufferers and hopes more people join the class action.

"The government bases its opinion on one tick study which is nearly 20 years old," she said. "No research has been done since then, so how can they take that as gospel?"

She also plans to sue Hornsby Hospital, where her husband spent several weeks before his death, and will appeal a decision by the Health Care Complaints Commission not to investigate his treatment there.

A claim for workers' compensation was rejected by insurer Employers Mutual, but lawyers will lodge an appeal once further medical reports are prepared, Ms Akinci said.

Fri, September 3rd, 2010. 12:48 pm


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