Deadly Paralysis Ticks

Well, I’ve just learned about something that makes me realize I have even less to complain about than I thought I did.

I was writing back and forth to an Australian rescuer and crossposter.  I’ve noticed her on Facebook for a few months and been impressed by how she works, and we’ve had some good interaction over a specific rescue, although I can’t remember the details.  So this evening, when I saw that she had posted about feeling slightly disillusioned lately–trouble in rescueland, so to speak–I read down the ‘thread’ to see if I could add anything cheerful to it.

Well, by the end of our written conversation I may have succeeded in helping to cheer her up, but I sure didn’t open my conversation with anything likely to do it!  I could hardly have chosen worse, in fact.  I asked her to tell me more about something she’d mentioned in one of her posts, the deadly paralysis tick, since it was something I’d never heard of.  And it turned out that she’d lost her cat to one of these ticks, and only just saved her dog, too.

I’ve read Bill Bryson’s, ‘From A Sunburned Country’, and, even better, listened to him read it on tape, which is an experience not to be missed.  And my brother and nephew travelled to Australia at least once, and my nephew narrowly missed being stung by a very poisonous type of jellyfish, whose tentacles had drifted over into an area which was supposed to be safe for swimmers.  So I’m aware that there are many dangerous creatures in Australia.  But I’d never thought about this in terms of pets, until tonight.

Until a few years ago, I’d never even seen a tick.  Whether it’s global warming or for some other reason, we’re seeing many more ticks around this area than we used to, and I live in slight trepidation, from spring until winter.  I even rejoice now when we get super cold periods during the winter, because hard freezes mean fewer future ticks.

I hate using lots of chemicals on the pets, and this year I’m going to give certain natural products a try, but really, when it comes to ticks I have a feeling that strong chemicals might be the way to go.  One time (and that was enough!), I had a tick attach to me.  I’d been in the hedgerow to the side of my house, and I bet it dropped down on me.  At some point, I noticed a pain on my head, as if I’d bumped my head on a sharp cupboard door or something.  Then I got a headache, and no meds affected it.  The next day, the spot on my head was worse, not better, and the headache was still there.  Finally, I really investigated the ‘bump’ on my head, wondering if it was possible I’d had a concussion and had lost all memory of it (or some weird thing like that), and it was then that I found the embedded tick.

I’m telling you, I wanted to rip my head off.  I was utterly horrified.  I grossed myself out.  I could barely stand to be inside my own skin, and I tried to stop all thoughts from entering my head.  I went upstairs, called the doctor, and was thrilled to hear that they had time to see me (although, if they hadn’t had time, I was going to go anyway–I was too grossed out to do anything else).

It turned out to be a deer tick, the type that can carry Lyme disease (although my vet tells me that now they know that other types of ticks we have around here can carry it, also).  The doctor started me on doxycycline, even before they’d sent the tick away for testing.  The whole experience made me feel vulnerable in a way I never had, before.  I realized that I was going to have to stop being optimistic about ticks–things had changed, and the war was being fought on my own soil now.

I began treating all my pets, every month from April to November, with a flea/tick treatment.  I don’t like doing this, as I said, and will look for other answers.  But the stakes are high.  Lyme disease is serious.

But I had no idea how ‘easy’ we have it here, tick-wise, until I learned about deadly paralysis ticks from the Australian rescuer tonight.  Here’s a link:

The above article taught me that this type of tick lives only in Australia, and apparently they’re mostly on the Sunshine Coast.  The rescuer I was ‘conversing’ with tonight wrote me, at one point, something like, ‘Surely you have them there, too?’  I told her I thought not, and I’m so very glad I was right about that.  Here’s another article by an Australian vet:

And here’s one with a picture of this terrifying insect:

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4 Responses to Deadly Paralysis Ticks

  1. Kate says:

    Wow…so glad we don’t have those here! I’ve had Lyme myself and it is not fun. Luckily I caught it early enough to not have any long term effects but the 3 months was long enough!

    We do everything homeopathically as much as possible (whole, organic food, etc) but we don’t mess around with heartworm or tick meds! He gets those meds with no reservation!

    • cellopets says:

      Wow, tell us a little about Lyme, if you have time! I’m really glad you made a full recovery. When did you realize you were sick? I’m with you on heartworm and tick meds–hate to do it, but it’s not worth risking it. What do you use?

  2. i have a friend who was not diagnosed properly with lyme disease and spent YEARS suffering from the aftereffects, even when she became healthy again she had some ongoing issues about which she was never very specific with me

  3. oh and by the way, ticks skeeve me out so much i run around the house shuddering even when i have one just crawling on me, even now, shuddering

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