It’s Spring, which means it is time to take preventative measures to avoid the hard-to-detect TICKS!

Although paralysis ticks can be found all year round, the peak season is spring and summer, when warm weather combines with periods of rain. Before gardening, bush walking, camping or just playing outdoors, make sure tick bite prevention and tick checks are part of your spring routine.

Paralysis ticks are most likely to live in moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded areas (trees, logs, and among sticks) or in grassy areas (such as uncontrolled vegetation and leafy debris). They are especially common in wet forests and temperature rainforests. You’re most likely to come into contact with these ticks during outdoor activities, such as camping or bush walking through leaf litter or long grass. The best method of avoiding ticks is to:

  • Walk in the centre of trails and avoid walking through dense vegetation
  • Tuck your pants into your socks and shirts into pants to prevent the ticks from making contact with your skin
  • Wear light coloured clothing as ticks will be much easier to detect
  • Wear insect repellent containing at least 20 per cent  DEET. Insect repellent should be applied to the skin when you know you are entering tick infested areas as it can protect you from ticks for several hours.

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Daily Tick Check:

After being outdoors, it is necessary to check your body for ticks, even if you have been in your own back yard or familiar environment. The most common areas of your body which ticks tend to infest include;

  • Under the armstick_remove
  • In and around the ears
  • Inside the belly button
  • Back of the knees
  • In and around the head and all body hair
  • Between the legs
  • Around the waist

Clothing can also be a carrier of ticks. To ensure all ticks are removed, place your clothes into the dryer on high heat. This will effectively kill any ticks.

Ticks and Pets:

Paralysis ticks normally infest native Australian animals, but can also cause problems when they infest livestock, domestic pets and humans. With an estimated 20,000 domestic animals paralysed every year in Australia, tick prevention has become a major focus for vets and pet owners alike.

To check for ticks on your pet, run your fingers over the whole body of the animal and investigate any unusual lumps. The most common sites of attachment are around the head and neck and under the arms or collar, but they can attach themselves anywhere on the skin. Vital warning signs for impending tick paralysis in pets includes;

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargic
  • Altered bark or meow
  • Coughing
  • Gagging or vomiting
  • Groaning or grunting
  • Altered breathing
  • Wobbliness or weakness

Allergic reactions are the most serious medical condition associated with ticks. These reactions can vary from a mild itching with localised swelling with pain, to a severe and life threatening anaphylatic condition. Unlike most medical conditions, severe allergic reactions may occur within tick stage.

 Tick Removal:

The key treatment of tick bite is prompt and complete removal of the tick. Use fine tipped or pointed tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Gently pull the tick straight out with steady pressure. If you have difficulty removing all parts of the tick, Australia Wide First Aid recommends you to seek immediate medical attention. After the removal of the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub or soap and water. It is normal for the tick bite to remain itchy for a few weeks after the initial tick bite. However, if any other symptoms persist, please seek immediate medical attention.

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