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Byron Shire
April 18, 2021

It’s already tick season again

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Vet Love’s Molly Dron with ‘China’ says rain then dry brings out ticks. Photo Tree Faerie.

What was once an unusual amount of tick related cases in dogs and cats presenting at this time of year for vet treatment, is becoming more usual say vets on the far north coast.

Almost all ticks belong to one of two major families, the Ixodidae or hard ticks, and the Argasidae or soft ticks and it is Ixodes holocyclus, commonly known as the Australian paralysis tick causing the trouble.

Ixodes holocyclus can cause paralysis by injecting neurotoxins into its host. It is usually found in a 20-kilometre wide band following the eastern coastline of Australia. Within this range Ixodes holocyclus is the tick most frequently encountered by humans and their pets.

Four stages to their lifecycle, namely egg, larva, nymph, and adult, this fully grown sucker implanted in a human today. Photo – said human.

Ticks have four stages to their lifecycle, namely egg, larva, nymph, and adult. Ixodid ticks have three hosts, taking at least a year to complete their lifecycle. Because of their habit of ingesting blood, ticks are carriers of at least 12 diseases that affect humans and other animals.

Vet Love’s veterinary nurse and practice manager Molly Dron says that usually it is the summer months which sees dogs and cats coming to the Billinudgel clinic. ‘We’ve had four cases in the last couple of weeks,’ she said. ‘Once upon a time there was a tick season but these days it seems to be all year around.’

Molly says that the drier summer months bring the ticks out and a weather pattern like we have had recently has seen an outbreak. ‘We’ve been getting a bit of rain and then getting some really warm and dry days. We had a very long period of rain a little while ago. The dry after that brought them out.’

Ticks are widely distributed around the world, especially in warm, humid climates.

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    • There are about 70 species of ticks in Australia. As a group they occur all over Australia, but some are highly habitat and host specific so only occurs in some localities, while others have a wider host and habitat requirement range so can occur over wider parts.

    • It may smother the tick, but I would not recommend it. The longer a tick remains attached, the higher is the risk of the transmission of pathogens. Also, by squeezing them or stressing them, they may inject more saliva and other substances into the bite wound, and so the risk of transmission is increased. Pulling them of with a fine-tipped pair of forceps works well for adults. Grasp them by the mouth parts as close to the skin as possible, and gently pull until they release. Larvae and sometimes even nymphs, are very tiny and are easily overlooked unless they are engorged. Acaricides specifically for treating ticks on pets would be the safest bet for dealing with them.

  1. My experience here on the NSW-Qld border is that they hide during hot weather in humus/mulch or at the bottom of long grass. They do not like to dry out.

    For 6 years they have been worse in July August than in hotter months. But for the last few yrs jave had very few as it has been very dry. Plenty of wallabies and bandicoots around. .


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