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.
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.