First published 5 September 2012
Pet owners are being warned of the dangers of tick paralysis as the tick responsible for the disease has recently beenfound on domestic animals and wildlife in the city.
Dr Margaret Reilly, Director of Veterinary Practices at the Townsville Veterinary Emergency Centre and Hospital at James Cook University, said the University’s parasitology department had identified ticks found in the area as paralysis ticks.
JCU VECH has treated several animals recently with tick paralysis, and veterinarians at JCU VECH are urging pet owners to look out for the signs of tick paralysis.
“These signs include ataxia or wobbliness in the hind end which may eventually result in inability to rise, a change in pitch of mew or bark, increase in respiratory effort sometimes with a noticeable expiratory grunt and vomiting or regurgitation,” Dr Reilly said.
“Should you notice any of these signs, please take your pet to a veterinarian immediately. Prompt treatment is essential.”
The tick responsible for tick paralysis, Ixodes holocyclus, does not usually thrive in the Townsville climate, however this year may be an exception, she said.
“Ixodes holocyclus causes an ascending paralysis which eventually affects the muscles of respiration and may causedeath if left untreated. The ticks are usually more active in spring and summer with numbers decreasing by March.”
Dr Reilly said if a household pet was found to have a tick on it, the tick should be removed immediately by simply pulling the tick off the animal. The tick should then be kept and taken to the vet for identification.
“If the animal is not showing any signs of tick paralysis, close monitoring is advised for at least three to four days.
“Owners are also advised that their pet may have more than one tick so having the pet’s coat clipped may also be merited.”
Dr Reilly said there were a number of products that may help prevent tick burdens on animals.
“Pet owners are urged to talk to their veterinarians about these products and are cautioned to read labels carefully as some products may be toxic to certain species.
“We also advise that pet owners go over their pet daily to look for paralysis ticks.”
For media interviews, contact: Dr Margaret Reilly on (07) 4781 3687.
JCU Media contact: Caroline Kaurila (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175