It’s time to tick off your pets
Living near native bushland comes with some serious due diligence. We’ve already discussed the importance of fire prevention, but there is also something much smaller and insidious that requires attention, especially at this time of year.
Ixodes holocyclus is not the name of a Roman emperor or exotic plant; it is the latin name for the Australian Paralysis Tick. Of the 70 tick species known to exist in this country, the Paralysis Tick is the most toxic and, unfortunately, the most common found along the eastern seaboard.
As its name suggests, the Paralysis Tick can cause paralysis in animals and some humans, and, in certain cases, may even lead to death. People who are allergic to ticks may also suffer throat swelling and anaphylactic shock as a result of a bite. So, while not everyone will have a severe reaction, it’s important to take ticks seriously and deal with a bite as soon as possible.
Ticks are found in tall grass and bushland in areas that are humid and moist. They cannot jump or fly, so they climb to the top of ground vegetation then cling onto a passing leg or animal body. If you plan to walk through bushland with children and pets, ensure that you are all adequately protected.
There are a number of tick and flea products that will provide a pet with a high degree of protection, but nothing available on the market is 100% foolproof. That’s why you should regularly check you pets for ticks. Feel the skin for small lumps, then look through the fur very carefully, especially around the head area. Depending on its life stage and how engorged it is, the tick will appear like a very small, shiny bean, that may be pale grey, reddish-brown or black. You can use a tick twister or fine-tipped forceps to remove the tick, but make sure you don’t squeeze the insect. If you’re unsure, or if your pet is already showing severe symptoms such as vomiting, inertia, difficulty breathing, or other signs of illness, then it’s best to head straight to the vet.
Humans who have been bitten may show the above symptoms as well as rashes, fever, headache, soreness. Always err on the side of caution and seek medical advice in the presence of any symptoms.
Of course, prevention is best. Use an insect repellant that is effective against ticks and wear long pants and sleeves when wandering into bushy areas.
For more information visit www.kmc.nsw.gov.au and search “ticks”.