Dr Martin Strong, BVSc, MACVSc (sas) and Associates
Cnr Motto Lane and Pacific Highway, Heatherbrae, NSW, Australia
Delivering old fashioned service with the latest of modern technology - Ph 02 4987 5087
Motto Farm Veterinary Hospital
Dr Martin Strong, BVSc, MACVSc (sas) and Associates Delivering old fashioned service with the latest of modern technology
Cnr Motto Lane and Pacific Highway, Heatherbrae - Phone 02 4987 5087
Tick Season is Here !!!
Tick Season is here! As we say goodbye to the winter chills
and welcome the warmer days of spring we also find the paralysis tick season.
The paralysis tick (Ixodes Holocyclus) is found on the east coast of Australia
and as summer approaches the tick becomes more active. They will feed on any
mammalian species including dogs, cats, horses, cattle, humans, macropods and
even birds. It is believed that the bandicoot is immune to the toxin
due to frequent low levels of exposure, but even a heavy enough burden of ticks
can kill a bandicoot.
The adult paralysis tick can be identified from the common
bush tick and the brown dog tick by looking at the colour of the legs. There
will be a dark leg, two light legs and a dark leg on each side. Typically the
tick will be a blue or grey colour but this can vary a little. The immature
nymph stage is very small (0.5mm) and feeds on its host then falls off and
repeats this process one more time until it becomes the adult tick. The adult
tick burrows into the skin to feed and in so doing releases a toxin that
effects the nerves of the host. It is a toxin that attacks the nerve fibres
from the back of the body first and then moves forward. The severity of
symptoms increases as the dose of toxin gets bigger hence the number of ticks
on the host pays a big role in the degree of sickness and how quickly symptoms
Signs of tick parlaysis include:vomiting; hind limb weakness; hind limb
paralysis; weakness in all 4 legs; collapse in all 4 legs; prolapse of the third
eyelid; dilated pupils; difficulty breathing; change in voice; gulping breathing
pattern; and when severe even death can result.
The major cornerstone of treatment is
the identification and removal of the tick. This does not result in the
immediate improvement of the animal and they will continue to absorb toxin from
the bite site for a further 24 hours hence symptoms can get worse after removal
of the tick.
If your animal has a tick, never stop looking for ticks
if one tick is found. Always assume that there is another tick
present and keep searching until the animal's condition is better. In
many cases it is necessary to clip off the coat to ensure no other ticks are
present. Ticks can also hide in the ears, around the vulva and
prepuce but most ticks are found around the head and neck region.
To remove the
tick it is best to pinch the skin up under the tick and remove the tick with your
fingers or a pair of thumb forceps. The less irritation that occurs,
the less the tick will inject toxin into the animal. Use of irritants
such as alcohol or kerosene will eventually kill the tick but they really are
not advised as they just encourage the injection of more poison.
your veterinarian for advice if you have removed a paralysis tick from your
animal and it is showing symptoms. Depending on the degree of
symptoms, treatment may be required and the earlier treatment is commenced, the
better the results. Treatment includes the use of tick antisera,
supportive medications and sometimes oxygen administration is needed and in
extreme cases ventilation is required. Animals that die from tick paralysis die
from respiratory collapse. Some dogs will die from heart muscle damage as well
and this can occur any time up to 3 weeks following tick poisoning. Hence rest is important for 3 weeks after being discharged.
is always better than the cure and so regular checking for ticks and removal of
ticks is essential. There are also numerous medications that can
reduce the risk of tick envenomation; these include spot on
treatments like Frontine, Advantix, Preventic Tick Collars, washes and rinses
such as Fido's and also oral medications like Proban. There are many advantages
and disadvantages with each product and it is best to tailor each approach
individually so ring us to discuss your needs.