THE famous, or some would say infamous, lyme disease awareness mascot – KB the Koala Bear - has spent a few days in Narooma this week on his round-the-world trip.
KB is now heading to his new home with Sarah-Louise “Feather” Jordon in England.
Sarah-Louise has chronic illness and has been housebound with her illness for many years.
KB, a koala soft toy, initially chaperoned Queensland lyme disease survivor Karen Smith on her journey to Hertfordshire, England for treatment in 2012.
Karen met and befriended Sarah-Louise in 2013 and on hearing her story decided KB should travel to England to live with her.
But rather than just post KB, she has sent him on an epic adventure around the world, raising awareness for lyme disease and chronic illness as he goes.
KB left Queensland in July last year and since then has been traveling down the east coast of Australia, spending a few days with a lyme host at each location, and having his adventures documented on Facebook.
He will continue traveling around Australia, then fly to the United States, then eventually on to Sarah-Louise in England.
This week he visited all the Narooma sites with his local host Greg Watts.
“Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caught from the bite of ticks,” Watts said.
“The disease is called the ‘great imitator’ because its symptoms mimic those of many other conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, MS, Parkinsons, motor neurone and Alzheimers.
“Without effective antibiotic treatment you become progressively and more chronically ill. Many believe the lyme bacteria is the root cause of all these diseases.”
Watts said thousands of people in Australia had lyme disease, yet its diagnosis is controversial, with many in the medical profession and government believing Australia is the only continent in the world where lyme disease does not occur.
In other countries it is a pandemic. For example, 300,000 people were diagnosed with lyme disease in America last year, he said.
“It is bigger than ebola, yet authorities here are in denial,” he said.
“KB is a great way of raising awareness of lyme disease world-wide.
“His journey has only really just started and he already has a cult following and has had some great adventures.
“His night out clubbing in Sydney is the stuff legends are made of.”
Here in Narooma it’s been a more outdoors theme - bushwalking in Kooraban National Park where we found a fire trail named after him, beaching it, and kayaking and fishing on Wagonga Inlet.
Watts said he’s also an ambassador for the town, selling the attractions of Narooma back to a world-wide audience.
“I’m sure Sara-Louise and his other followers are getting a lot of enjoyment out of watching his travels,” he said.
Karen Smith has set up a Facebook page to chronicle KB’s journey. You can follow KB’s travels by searching for the Event ‘KB's Travel Adventure’ on your Facebook page.