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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Paralysis Tick - a danger to local dogs

A friend of mine has saved the life of one of a set of puppies by noticing and then removing this Tick from the puppy's face. It is an Australian Paralysis Tick (Ixodes holocyclus).
The Paralysis Tick removed from the puppy.
It is a female - rated as semi-engorged.
They do get much larger than this one,
if they are not discovered for a few more days.
As I write this, the word from the Vet is that the Puppy is doing well enough, in recovery, but it is still on a drip. Lets hope it recovers well.

For further scientific discussion of the effects of ticks on animals, please check this link.

Paralysis Tick - female semi-engorged.
Underneath view.
This incident hopefully will serve as a timely reminder that even in the cool, mountainous climate of Robertson, ticks are a threat, especially to dogs and small animals. This is especially true if your property is close to the Illawarra Escarpment, it seems. Global warming might also be causing an expansion of the range of these creatures, into areas where they have not been a problem before.

There is a theory that Echidnas might be a vector (carrier) of the Paralysis Tick. It so happens that I saw an Echidna on my friend's property on the weekend. Below are some photos of an Echidna which I saw last year beside the Illawarra Highway, immediately below the property known as "Ocean View". It is immediately above the top of Macquarie Pass. This is about 5 Km east of Robertson. This Echidna had a very enlarged tick clearly visible on its neck. I have often seen large Ticks on Echidnas, which seem not to be troubled by their poison. Such occurrences are common, and it seems Echidnas have evolved in conjunction with ticks, and presumably are immune to their paralysing poison. But they may well aid in the spread of ticks to other animals.
To find out more about Paralysis Ticks in New South Wales please click on this linked page. There is also some discussion of the supposed connections between Ticks and Lymes Disease or other diseases which cause problems for humans. For more information, please go to this linked page from Westmead Hospital.

Adverse reactions to tick bites on humans can range from localised irritation, to a more severe condition known as "Scrub-itch" (usually associated with numerous tick bites of tiny juvenile ticks - often as many as 50 or more, especially if one has been working in the scrub, eg, clearing Lantana or other dense bushes), and severe allergic reactions, though to toxic shock (anaphylaxis). More serious conditions such as "Queensland Tick Typhus" are also discussed on this site.

7 comments:

mick said...

Yuck! I hate the little "biters" and always suffer rather extreme symptoms - the kind they describe as most common with children - nausea, dizziness, sensitivity to light etc etc. Most unpleasant!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
Nasty creatures, I agree. My own personal dislike is for Leeches.
Cannot argue in favour of Ticks though.
.
Well you have obviously followed the links I gave. Thank you for doing that too.
.
Cheers
Denis

swampythings said...

Hi Denis, Re "Scrub-itch" a condition I have only once experienced in a relatively mild form. I was told that it was a reaction to a mite....but I have never had any more detailed information. Are 'the mites' in fact juvenile ticks?

We had a dog on this property for many years that developed quite a good immunity to ticks but it did take some careful nursing through a couple 'episodes'.
Cheers
Barbara

Anonymous said...

Duncan, from Ben Cruachan said:
.
I've often seen wombats with heaps of ticks on them Denis, doesn't seem
to worry them either.
.
Cheers, Duncan.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Barbara and Duncan
.
Barbara, I hear that some breeds of dogs, especially Queensland Blue Heelers, are quite resistent to ticks.
No guarantees, though.
.
Duncan, Wombats, Wallabies and Echidnas have all had umpteen millions of years to develop resistance, so that makes perfect sense , to me.
.
Cheers
.
Denis

Snail said...

Urk! Ticks. The seem to favour the possums around here.

The spectacled flying foxes suffer very badly from paralysis tick bites when they come down from the canopy to feed on the introduced Solanum.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Snail
How is your Internet connection?
Thought you must have gone off line.
.
Strange that ticks affect the tree dwellers and the Big Bats. Who would have thought?
At least Echidnas (and Swamp Wallabies) seem to to be immune.
Cheers
Denis