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Deadly Ticks a Threat to New South Wales Pets

14 August 2014

AUSTRALIA - Vets are warning pet owners to be vigilant after an unprecedented number of paralysis tick cases ahead of the usual spring season.

Although ticks are more commonly seen in the warmer months, according to Disease Watchdog, a national companion animal disease surveillance system, there have been close to 100 cases logged over winter with 80 per cent of cases occurring in New South Wales.

The Australian Veterinary Association’s NSW spokesperson, Dr Steve Ferguson, said that prevention is key.

“Animals in tick prone-prone areas should be on an effective tick-prevention program to reduce the risk of picking up a life-threatening tick,” Dr Ferguson said.

“Last August there were more than 280 cases of tick paralysis cases reported in NSW and QLD and it’s likely that we’ll see a similar number this year.”

Cases have been reported right up the eastern seaboard in the last two months from as far south as Moruya in the Nowra region to Wollongong, Campbelltown, Wahroonga, Central Coast, Newcastle, Foster, Port Macquarie, Grafton and Murwillumbah.

“There have also been reports of tick paralysis cases in the inner-west parts of Sydney, which is quite unusual and a reminder to pet owners to not be complacent. Owners should regularly check their pets for ticks by running hands over the animal’s coat to feel for anything unusual. Ticks will feel like small bumps on the skin.”

Paralysis ticks are usually found in long grass and scrub, particularly in coastal areas. They tend to attach to the head and neck area of the pet and on the chest and the front of the leg, but can be found on any part of the body.

“Ticks release a toxin when they feed, which leads to a condition known as tick paralysis. It’s critical to take action immediately if you notice any symptoms and contact your local vet.

“Your local vet can also give you advice on effective tick prevention products and the best ways to search for and remove ticks,” he said.

Common signs of tick paralysis include:

  • Gurgling or choking
  • Being unable to bark or meow properly due to paralysis of the throat
  • Coughing or retching when eating or drinking
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Weakness in the legs progressing to inability to stand.

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