Tick victim Sam with vet Gary Fitzgerald.
Tick victim Sam with vet Gary Fitzgerald. David Nielsen

Deadly ticks plague

AN EXPLOSION in the number of paralysis ticks in Ipswich is crippling the city's pets this spring, with some vets reporting more than 20 cases a week.

Vets say the big wet followed by the long dry is the reason for a 300% rise in cases of paralysis caused by the deadly parasite.

Most vets surveyed said they were seeing between five to seven cases a week - up from two a week last year.

Karalee Village Vet Clinic head nurse Krystal Pryde said the surgery was admitting and treating three patients a day - or 21 a week.

She said the paralysis tick didn't discriminate when striking its victim.

"Cats and dogs are at risk, sheep, horses and cattle - we had an owl in the other day with a tick on his face," she said.

"The floods flushed out all the wildlife and they're usually immune to ticks. But we've had wildlife in covered in them."

Fernvale Veterinary Surgery vet nurse Lisa Govier said people weren't aware of just how swift and lethal the paralysis tick could be.

"There are definitely more than last year, and they're not in the areas they'd normally be," Ms Govier said.

"We had a domestic cat in here with 20 paralysis ticks on it.

"We saved it and it came back a week later covered again.

"The owners had just moved house and their yard was really overgrown.

"Then you see a big German Shepherd with one tick and they struggle to fight the toxins."

Yamanto Veterinary Surgery practice manager Anna Stanley said suburban pet owners needed to be especially vigilant.

"People think because they live in town they're safe," Ms Stanley said.

"They think, 'We don't live in bushland and we mow our yard', but all it takes is a bandicoot or possum to run through the yard and drop a pregnant female tick and it's danger.

"Usually the females are the feeders."

She said ticks were attracted to carbon dioxide, which was why they were usually found around the animal's head or neck.

"Depending on the size of the tick, if it's a juvenile, it will take about three to four days to feed and fill with blood - they grow quick," she said.

Animal Welfare League Vet Clinic practice manager Ash O'Brien said ticks loved moist and humid conditions, especially following the rain.

"Any tick will remove blood so anaemia is a big concern," Ms O'Brien said.

"We have seen so many cases. It's a huge problem.

"Hopefully we can save some lives through your story."

Vets say if your pet has a tick feeding off it, symptoms will appear within three to five days.

If left on the animal, your pet will almost certainly be dead within five to 10 days.

Prevention is available in various forms including tablets, sprays, 'top spot' treatments, oral paste, collars and washes.

WARNING SIGNS

  • A change in voice - the meow or bark becomes softer or changes pitch.
  • Weakness or wobbliness in the back legs - walking along then sitting down suddenly is a common early sign.
  • Vomiting or excessive salivation, especially if it happens several times in a day and you see froth.
  • Panting, progressing to loud breathing and even grunting noises.
  • Many dogs will exhibit a moist cough and breathing problems before other signs.


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