The Australian Paralysis Tick (Ixodes holocyclus)
The Australian Paralysis Tick is extremely dangerous to our pets, and sadly, can be fatal. The Paralysis Tick presents along the entire length of Australia’s east coast – from Lakes Entrance in Victoria to the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. Paralysis ticks favour humidity and are generally more prevalent during the Spring and Summer months, however, there is no time of the year that there is a surety that they are dormant.
Native wildlife such as bandicoots, possums, koalas are natural hosts of the Paralysis Tick and have often built a resilience to the tick toxin, therefore being mostly unaffected. Our pets, and even ourselves, are very susceptible . . .
Paralysis Ticks, though only small in size (from 0.5 mm long as larvae – 3.8 mm long as an unengorged adult – to 13.2 mm long as a fully engorged female), are so terribly dangerous as their saliva contains potent neuro and cardo toxins, which cause progressive paralysis . . .
Paralysis Ticks take some three days to inject a detectable amount of toxin, hence the importance of checking you, your family, and your pets thoroughly every day whilst in the tick zone.
On Pets . . .
If living or travelling to the east coast of Australia, ensure your pet is protected by a Paralysis Tick prevention product. A visit to your Vet will help you decide which is the best product for your particular pet – collars, topical liquids, chewable tablets, sprays . . .
Whilst in the Tick Zone
Be sure to check your pet every day – from the tip of the tail to the tip of the nose – especially around the eyes, inside the ears, interior & exterior lip areas, under the collar, around the anus, between the toes . . .
Checking for Ticks . . .
Legs: the two middle legs on each side are lighter in colour than the two end legs on each side
Legs: their legs are bunched together at the front of the body
Mouth: their mouths are elongated
What to do should you find a Tick
Remove it immediately – be careful to remove the entire tick by attaching forceps or a special tick removing device as close to the skin as possible – pull, whilst twisting CLOCKWISE – in order to have the best chance of removing the entire tick – otherwise the head may remain in the body . . .
Symptoms of Tick Toxicity
The following symptoms are typical of the toxin, however, allergic reactions can dramatically exacerbate the decline in the health of your pet. Infection is another real risk to watch out for in the days following the incident.
– as the heart muscles become affected, the heart too, will begin to fail . . .
On Humans . . .
Paralysis ticks can affect humans too. Our advantage is education, however, our children may not be able to communicate their symptoms, so they need to be inspected – just like our pets.
If visiting a potential tick infested area it is wise to wear light coloured clothing – e.g. long sleeves, long pants tucked into your socks – thus making the presence of ticks are more visible. Repellents containing DEET OR Picaridin are also advisable.
Paralysis Tick symptoms present initially with local itchiness and a hard lump at the site of the bite. Increasingly serious symptoms present over a number of days as the tick engorges itself. Symptoms can include: rashes, unsteady gait, weakness in the limbs and partial face paralysis.
Allergic reactions ranging from mild itching and swelling to potentially life threatening anaphylactic shock are also risk factors.
Infection is another symptom to watch out for in the days following the incident . . .
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