CONCERNED: Sheryl Johnston of Lennox Head, has suffered a mysterious illness for two months.
CONCERNED: Sheryl Johnston of Lennox Head, has suffered a mysterious illness for two months. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Doctor baffled by virus

A LENNOX Head woman and her doctor are baffled by a mystery illness creeping through Northern Rivers towns.

Lennox Head's Sheryl Johnston, 64, has spent the last two months trying to shake what appears to be an aggressive virus.

The problem is, her Casino GP of more than 20 years, Carl Currie, has been unable to diagnose the illness, despite multiple tests.

"A number of people I know along the coast towns have caught what I have," Mrs Johnstone said.

"My daughter has been to the doctor with the same thing and they can't figure out what's wrong with either of us. I've had tests for stuff carried by mosquitos, rheumatoid arthritis and numerous other blood tests, but we still don't know what's going on."

Mrs Johnston is no stranger to pain, taking medication regularly to battle osteoarthritis in her spine, but she says the recent illness is like nothing she's felt before. "I've had strange sweats that come and go and terrible pain in my joints," she said.

"I tapped the bottom of a little (food) sachet the other day before I opened it and even that made my finger really hurt.

"I have osteoarthritis in my spine but this is something else entirely - we've tested for rheumatoid arthritis and it's not that."

Mrs Johnstone claims during an Allamanda Private Hospital Gold Coast visit for back problems in October, she noticed "a heap of people in hospital with the same thing I've got now".

She said her outlook for the coming months was anything but rosy.

"If it is a new type of virus or something they don't know what the long-term effects are and Dr Currie can't say how long I'll

have symptoms," she

said.

Doctor Currie confirmed he had been trying to crack the cause of the mystery illness.

"There are no answers at the moment, but hopefully we'll get there eventually," he said. "Presumably there's something new going around apparently there's other people around with a similar illness."

Mr Currie rattled off a number of in-depth tests he had conducted, but said the disease was not easily diagnosed.

Theories

NORTHERN NSW Local Health District was unaware of any incidents of the unknown illness.

     Deputy director of public health for North Coast Greg Bell had his own theory.

     "The Public Health Unit / Ministry of Health is not aware of any clusters in this regard," he said.

     "However, from time to time unidentified viruses being spoken of by people in the community can mean that some individuals can have difficulty in recovering, depending on their individual immune response," he said.


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