Aussie man's 11 year battle after 'life ruining' moment on Queensland holiday

The Australian government 'does not support' the notion of locally acquired Lyme disease. But Jordan Clark begs to differ and just raised $40,000 for treatment.

Jordan smiling in formal attire and flexing in another photo.
Jordan and his family believe his health spiralled out of control after a trip to Queensland. Source: Supplied

It's been more than a decade of pain, fatigue, mystery and misery for young Aussie Jordan Clark. But on the cusp of raising $40,000 for a desperate trip to a clinic in the Mediterranean, he hopes to find some reprieve from his unusual health ordeal that has divided the Australian medical community.

It all started some 11 years ago when at the age of 16, he began suffering severe symptoms, breaking out in hives and boils and suddenly dealing with chronic bouts of fatigue. "It took a bit to work out what was causing it," he told Yahoo News Australia.

He and his family soon suspected a tick bite while on holiday in Queensland was the source of his sudden and dramatic health issues, which now see him suffer from a myriad of symptoms including chronic fatigue, pointing to possible Lyme disease caused by the tick's bacteria.

"Once it’s [the bacteria from the tick] has been in your system for a while it is really hard thing to get on top of, especially here in Australia," Jordan said.

While he has previously worked as a swim instructor and helps a mate who runs a supermarket, his ill health means he is unable to work much. And he's currently unable to drive due to the potential of suffering a seizure – another crippling symptom he is dealing with.

But it's been a long and difficult journey through the medical establishment in Australia where tick-borne Lyme disease "is not as recognised as it is in Europe or America." In Jordan's words, the medical community "is more resistant to the idea that ticks can carry bacteria that can ruin people's lives," he told Yahoo.

"I've had doctors simply tell me; 'We don't have that here'."

Jordan smiling and pictured holding his sister's young kids.
Jordan with his sister's young kids. He says the ordeal has brought his family closer. Source: Supplied

Lyme disease is a tick-borne infection caused by bacteria. According to NSW Health, "although locally-acquired Lyme disease cannot be ruled out, there is little evidence that it occurs in Australia". However, "there is a continuing risk of Lyme disease for overseas travellers," the department states online.

The Australian federal government has a similarly skeptical public stance.

"Scientists have not found Borrelia burgdorferi in Australian ticks, or any other Australian insect that could pass the disease to humans," it states. "For this reason, the Australian Government does not support the diagnosis of locally acquired Lyme disease. Instead, it recognises that a group of patients experience debilitating symptom complexes that some people attribute to ticks. We call this DSCATT (Debilitating Symptom Complexes Attributed to Ticks)."

However the federal government notes that Lyme disease from ticks is "commonly found in parts of the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Asia."

Ticks can carry bacteria which can have disastrous health consequences for humans. Source: Getty
Ticks can carry bacteria which can have disastrous health consequences for humans. Source: Getty

Lyme disease or DSCATT, living in the outer suburbs of Melbourne with his parents, Jordan admits it's been a "frustrating" decade but one silver lining is how it's made them “extra strong and extra tight as a family”.

“When I see how it affects my family that gets to me more because I realise I'm not the only one affected," he said. “They have to watch and they can’t do anything.”

There are doctors in Australia who are more sympathetic to a local diagnosis of Lyme disease and Jordan has found one who has helped him and urged him to seek treatment at a clinic in Cyprus, where he can undergo Ozone therapy, an effective treatment for acute bacterial infection such as Lyme disease.

“It’s nice to know I’m not insane,” he told Yahoo on Friday.

"After investing extensively, well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, on medication and treatments that have gotten me somewhere, but also nowhere, my doctor and I have discussed my remaining options and the need to look overseas for treatment," he wrote in a GoFundMe page set up to help fund the cost of the trip and treatment.

Jordan pictured as a teen with boils and blisters on his face.
Jordan pictured when he first began suffering the symptoms as a teenager. Source: Supplied

"Though this journey has been exhausting, frustrating, humiliating, and crippling at times, I am still optimistic about the potential for this next phase of treatment to have life-altering results," he wrote.

Jordan had a call on Thursday night with the lead doctor at the Cyprus clinic and he hopes to get over there for treatment from about September to November this year.

Stunningly, his GoFundMe campaign surpassed its $40,000 target on Saturday night after just a few days online.

"Took three days to get there which is pretty crazy," Jordan remarked to Yahoo.

It's been a long wait, but in the grand scheme of things, hopefully the next step feels just as quick.

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