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Tick Paralysis

Bush ticks are mainly found in scrub-covered parts of eastern Australia, from Queensland to northern Tasmania. The adult female feeds off warm-blooded animals such as people, dogs and cats by burrowing into their skin and sucking blood for 3 to 4 days, then falling off and laying her eggs. As she feeds, her saliva-which contains a nerve poison-seeps into the skin and is absorbed. Antitoxin is available and all victims recover after treatment.

Signs and symptoms

  • irritation at the bite site
  • clumsiness, lethargy, loss of appetite
  • muscle weakness beginning in the feet and spreading to other parts
  • double vision
  • breathing difficulty

First aid treatment

  1. Remove any tick as soon as it is found.Lever it carefully from the skin, taking care to remove the head as well as the body. The point of a small pair of scissors or a tweezers blade makes a good lever.
    Do not apply a snuffed hot match head, kerosene, turps or any other substance to the tick's body because this may injure skin and tick, increasing the risk of skin infection and making the tick more difficult to remove.
    Do not pinch or squeeze the tick, and do not try to pull it out by grasping the body with tweezers.
  2. After tick removal, wash your hands and the bite site with soap and water, then wipe the bite site and surrounding skin with antiseptic.A cold compress will help to relieve pain.
  3. Check to make sure that there are no other ticks in the victim's hair or body crevices.
  4. If symptoms persist or the victim is a child,always seek medical aid.

You can become ill even after the tick has been removed and for up to 8 days after leaving 'tick country'. Some people never find the tick at all. If you develop any of the symptoms listed above or become unwell for no apparent reason after being in the bush, see your doctor without delay.

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