Paralysis ticks more active as weather warms up

AS THE weather warms, the Northern Rivers has begun experiencing its annual resurgence of paralysis ticks.

Across the Northern Rivers, and Nimbin in particular, residents have taken to social media to air their concerns about the neurotoxic pests.

Northern Rivers Veterinary Service's Doctor Liz Brown thinks a regional increase in bandicoots, or other mammals, may have given ticks an opportunity to thrive.

"It's been quite bad in the Lismore area recently," she said.

"We've had clients coming in that have never had a problem with ticks before.

"They tend to have a strong link with bandicoots and other animals. There may be more animals around town.

"But ticks are always going to be a problem in our region - it's never something that goes away."

About ticks

  • The Australian paralysis tick (ixodes holocyclus) is one of about 75 tick species in Australia.
  • Ticks are bloodsucking, external parasites.
  • The paralysis tick is especially common in wet sclerophyll forests and temperate rainforests.
  • Distinguished by a hard dorsal plate and elongated mouthparts with rows of backward pointing teeth.

Dr Brown said quick action was necessary when ticks were spotted on either animals or people.

"All you can really do is get ticks off as soon as you feel the bite, or a burn or itch. Humans can also get quite badly affected," she said.

"We usually recommend clipping the dog (or other animal) and checking for ticks daily.

"A good tick collar, like Scalibor, is a good idea.

"One small tick can kill some small animals."

A paralysis tick preventative, such Frontline or Advantix, is also recommended.

Animals affected with paralysis need to be treated with an anti-tick serum, administered by a vet.

"The first thing to do is to remove the tick as quickly as possible. Use a quick flick of the tweezers to pull it out (by the head)," Dr Brown said.

Afterwards animals should be kept from moving and housed in a cool environment.

Monitoring should occur to ensure the animal does not become unsteady on its feet, called ataxia, or display vomiting or heavy, loud breathing.

Dr Brown said without proper intervention and modern medical treatment, many animals affected by paralysis tick would simply "deteriorate and die".

Ticks on humans can cause allergic reactions, paralysis and tick-borne diseases and medical treatment may be needed.

If paralysis symptoms are present, including unsteadiness, tiredness, visual difficulties and weakness of limbs or parts of the face, seek help immediately.



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