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ticks in Australia


  • there are 73 tick species in Australia, including a minority that commonly bite humans and pets
    • most feed on specific host animals such as echidnas, platypus, wombats, reptiles
  • ticks have three distinct life stages: larvae, nymph, and adult and each stage requires a blood meal in order to develop to the next stage
  • ticks crawl up long grass or twigs to wait in ambush for a passing host animal and once on their host, ticks seek out somewhere warm and moist (favourite spots on humans are scalp, underarms, and groin) where they then attach and suck blood before dropping off after about 5 days
  • always check your pets and your family for ticks after walking through long grass areas
  • tick paralysis from tick saliva can be fatal for pets
  • ticks can also spread canine monocytic ehrlichiosis (CME) in dogs throughout northern and central Australia
  • ticks can cause allergic reactions in humans as well as delayed onset mammalian meat allergy

four tick species around Australia commonly bite people and pets

  • Ixodes holocyclus, the Eastern paralysis tick
    • common in coastal Queensland, New South Wales, and northern Victoria
    • can be problematic for campers and hikers and their dogs especially within 50km of the eastern coast of Australia and as far south as Lakes Entrance in Victoria
  • Ixodes cornuatus, the Southern paralysis tick
    • common in Victoria and Tasmania
    • has been responsible for several cases of envenomation in humans and the death of one cat
    • it is difficult to distinguish from I. holocyclus
  • Amblyomma triguttatum, the Ornate kangaroo tick
    • common throughout Australia, particularly in south-west Western Australia
  • Rhipicephalus linnaei, the Brown dog tick
    • common throughout Australia, but only bites dogs.

bites from minute larva and nymph stage ticks

  • these are tiny (about 0.5-1.5 mm) and can be hard to see but can cause bites as serious as those from adult ticks
  • mainly in autumn and winter

bites from adult ticks

  • these are easily seen if looked for and if found should be removed in the appropriate manner to avoid the tick regurgitating stomach contents under your skin

how to remove a tick

  • there are a range of safe techniques:
    • freeze spray approach
      • freeze the tick in-place with an ether-based freezing spray designed for ticks
      • these sprays are sold in car shops as “dry engine starters”
    • tweezer approach
      • use fine-tipped tweezer to grasp the tick’s head as close as you can to the skin.
      • slowly and steadily pull the tick upward, without twisting, jerking or bending it.
      • be sure to remove the entire tick, including its mouthparts
    • insecticide approach for tiny ticks
      • smother it with a permethrin-containing cream (available at pharmacies) to kill it in place.
      • it will then drop off later
australia/ticks.txt · Last modified: 2024/01/01 17:34 by gary1

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