Sherria Powell, 68, of Boonah may have spent the last three years on the road, but she is no typical grey nomad.
Instead of seeing the countryside, Ms Powell sees the insides of hospitals, pharmacies and medical centres in a personal crusade to spread the word about the dangers of Tick Borne Disease, once known as Lyme Disease.
A former phlebotomist, Ms Powell said she had been instrumental in diagnosing the condition which had devastating consequences for some people. She said that prior to 2017, tests had to be sent overseas as the condition was unrecognised in Australia. Patients are tested for borelia, bartonella, babesia, anaplasma and ehrlichia, as some of the multiple microbes that could be delivered from infected tick bites.
“If people aren’t treated with antibiotics in the first 10 days they can develop serious streams of infection. Most people think of a tick affecting animals, but they can affect humans as well,” she said.
Ms Powell said early symptoms of Tick Borne Disease were a bullseye rash and flu symptoms and later more serious infections could be deadly.
“My mission is to get the word out about the condition and deliver pamphlets to doctors, hospitals and pharmacies all around Australia so that people can be treated early,” she said.
To that end, Ms Powell has taken her caravan to sites from Cooktown to Darwin and through the centre to Alice Springs, traversing the Nullabor to Kalgoorlie, Perth and Esperence. She has covered all of Victoria and on March 6 will spend time in Tasmania. At the end of May, she intends to revisit her earlier trip to north Queensland, visiting all the smaller towns with new pamphlets. The pamphlets are provided by the Karl McManus Foundation.
“You could say I am a grey nomad with a purpose. I spend eight and half months a year on the road. I always receive great acceptance from people,” she said.
Ms Powell usually travels with her two dogs, although she is not taking them to Hobart. She intends to stop her travels at age 70.
“The Government doesn't recognise the disease and treatment is not on the PBS. Lyme Disease comes from America and we have different co-infections from different ticks here, hence the name change,” she said.
Ms Powell said ticks were carried on wombats, kangaroos, lizards and birds and were easily transportable to humans.
More on Tick Borne Disease on karlmcmanusfoundation.org.au