Bushwalking is an outdoor activity exclusive to Australia. However, there is another dangerous thing exclusive to Australia called paralysis tick which Australian bushwalkers can get during the activity. Once they get attached to the bodies of bushwalkers they can come to their home and can also get bound to their dogs and cats and suck their blood. While sucking blood, these parasites release tick toxins in the body of their hosts. These toxins cause paralysis in various organs and even can cause death. Professional veterinarians at Gordon Vet Clinic, a leading North Shore vet hospital Sydney, share valuable tips about how paralysis tick can get on to bushwalkers and what bushwalkers can do to avoid them.
Among the 75 tick species endemic to Australia, Ixodes holocyclus or paralysis tick occurs in the 30km wide eastern coastal strip which is densely populated. The habitat contains warm, moist and bushy areas like sclerophyll forests as well as temperate rainforests.
Paralysis tick’s lifecycle includes four stages and three blood feeds. A female adult tick lays around 3,000 eggs on the leaves fallen on the forest floors. Within 40-60 days, six-legged larvae hatch from these eggs. They require their first feed so as to transform into eight-legged nymphs. Because of not getting this first feed, many of them die. Whichever of them survive and become nymphs wait for the second meal to get converted to an adult. After they get the last third blood-meal, they mate. Next they lay eggs and finally they die. This lifecycle takes around a year to complete, with the larva stage occurring in autumn, nymph in winter and adult ticks in spring and summer.
Often bandicoots living in the forests are chosen as hosts by the tick. However, even human bushwalkers can serve as good hosts for them.
The typical behaviour of ticks to find a host is known as ‘questing’. In this, they climb up bushes, such as a fern or a blade of grass, not higher than 50cm from the ground and wait with their front legs extended to grab a passing animal which of course can be a bushwalker too.
It’s a misconception that a tick drops on to its host; but, in fact it crawls over a potential host for around two hours before it finds a suitable place to get attached.
If you or someone in your family is a bushwalker, you can bring home paralysis tick from the forest and pass them on to your dogs and cats, and even children. To prevent this, vets at Gordon Vet Clinic, a famous Lindfield veterinary clinic, suggest following precautions:
You should also know how to remove tick in case if tick gets attached to yours or your pet’s skin despite every precaution. Here are some tick removal tips:
Don’t let your pets suffer from tick infestations because of your passion of bushwalking. Enjoy the hobby but with due precautions.