Early Diagnosis to Prevent Tick Paralysis

Tick paralysis is one of the most dangerous and prominent cause of death in pets along the east coast of Australia. Every year around 10,000 dogs are affected by tick paralysis with around 5% of mortality rate. This means that 500 dogs die each year. But even the remaining ones don’t live happily; they suffer from pain and discomfort. As if this is less, the cost of treatment is too high, i.e. anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 if the patient is severely affected. Specialist vets at https://gordonvet.com.au/marsfield-vet/ share some valuable information here about this dangerous parasite, its effects and preventive measures.

Image Courtesy: smallanimaltalk.com


The ‘tick season’ starts in September in Sydney, though this is not a hard and fast rule. If pet parents remain alert and catch the parasite early, the treatment is quite inexpensive. However, if it remains undetected, it can turn to be expensive and sometimes even tragic. Therefore, as the weather warms up, pet parents should be careful and save their beloved pets from this dangerous parasite.

Common Locations

Tick paralysis is common especially in New South Wales. Most of the cases take place in spring and summer, since this is the time when ticks are more in number and are active. Also this is the time when the acquired immunity of pets is the lowest.

Some areas are especially prone to tick paralysis. For example, Sydney’s northern beaches are a hot spot and Avalon is often referred to as “tick central”.

North coast of NSW, southeast Queensland and Brisbane has a longer tick season with the disease more widespread.

The area on the west of the Great Dividing Range is quite free from paralysis ticks and so Canberra pets are safe unless they are taken to the coast on weekends.

How does Paralysis Develop?

Tick survives on the blood of mammals. As it sucks the blood of the host, a neurotoxin, named holocyclotoxin, secreted in its saliva enters the blood of the host.

Paralysis tick generally lives on Australian native marsupials like macropods, bandicoots and possums which have become immune to tick toxin. However, dogs, cats and children don’t have such immunity and after three to four days of infestation, enough intoxication (envenomation) takes place in their bodies so as to develop muscle weakness and thereby paralysis.

Image Courtesy: turramurravet.com.au

How does Tick Toxin Act?

The tick toxin acts by stopping the secretion of the neurotransmitter called acetylcholine from the terminals of motor nerves which communicate with muscles.

Often dogs developing the disease first shows a change in their bark, which can be picked up on if you are observant. Sometimes there may even be regurgitation of food because of weakness in muscles of oesophagus and throat.

With the increasing concentration of the toxin in blood, muscles become increasingly weaker leading to trembling of hind limb gait, next hind limb paralysis and ultimately flaccid paralysis of all four limbs.

Advanced cases show paralysis of respiratory muscles which leads to death if the patient is not placed on a ventilator.

Effect on Human Children

Human children are also prone to tick intoxication and surprisingly more children have died of this disease in Australia than of snake bite; however, these days these deaths have become rare due to modern intensive care techniques and usage of tick anti-toxin.

Tick paralysis is actually a treatable disease and management and paralysis tick treatment for dogs at https://gordonvet.com.au/paralysis-ticks-prevention-treatment/is straightforward if diagnosed early. So, keep a keen eye on your dear pets and save them on time.


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