Dog and cat owners are urged to be vigilant after experts warned that this year’s long months of unusually humid weather could cause an explosion in the paralyzed tick population, putting their furry friends at risk.
The paralytic finch (Ixodes holocycle) It is known to cause vomiting and retching, food refusal, difficulty breathing and wobbly hind legs in pets. If left untreated, the tick is potentially fatal to pets.
It is most active during periods of high humidity, especially after rain, states the Federal Ministry of Health.
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They can be found along the east coast of Australia from Victoria to Queensland and while they are usually area specific, experts say the fast-growing populations can spread the paralytic ticks beyond the usual hot spots.
A cat named Chopin has fallen victim to tick paralysis in western Sydney, leading to concerns about the parasite.
“While it’s rare to find them outside of known Sydney hot spots, I’ve personally treated dozens of tick paralysis cases while working at various clinics in Sydney,” Glebe vet Dr. Emma Hall at 7NEWS.com.au.
“This is the first one I know that hasn’t been to a known hotspot in the past few weeks.
“Our main concern is that the rains of the past few months have expanded the geographic range of the moisture-loving paralytic beak.
“If this is the case, areas of bushland in and around Sydney may have seen paralytic tick populations explode, with native mammals (which have some immunity to the crippling tick toxin) serving as a payoff vector allowing the tick to colonize areas such as the inner west. , where the ticks are rarely found.”
Hall believes that Chopin’s case could be an isolated case, and that “tick prevention is easy to implement and relatively inexpensive”.
RSPCA chief veterinarian Liz Arnott told 7NEWS.com.au that rare cases of tick bites are occurring, and can be linked to native animals acting as hosts, or shipments of mulch and wet leaf litter from hotspot areas.
“You can imagine that with some movement of those animals like birds around Sydney… it’s not impossible for ticks to spread to different areas.
“It’s not as common as it is in areas where many native animals roam.
“The ticks clearly prefer certain environmental conditions and humidity is clearly one of those conditions that will prolong tick activity,” Arnott said.
The wet weather brings with it an influx of insects of all kinds, and Arnott says it’s best to be aware of “anything insect-caused, heartworm disease is another one that people need in certain areas, and hypersensitive reactions to insect bites such as mosquitoes and what not”.
According to the Australian Department of Health, more than 95 percent of tick bites and most tick-borne diseases in Eastern Australia are due to the paralytic species.
The breathing of an animal bitten by a paralyzed tick will be slow and labored, with growling sounds.
The RSPCA recommends checking your pet daily for small clumps caused by tick bites, and using shampoos that kill and repel ticks if you’re concerned.
If a tick is found, it should be removed immediately and your vet can show you the best way to remove it, the RSPCA says.
Wear disposable gloves and have a container or ziplock bag ready, with alcohol to kill it.
Try to remove the tick from the head without squeezing the body. If the tick’s mouth gets lodged in your pet’s skin, it can cause swelling and infection.