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The Paralysis Tick Identification (Part 1)

Posted on 11 September 2012

In Northern NSW we have had some beautiful, warm, sunny, late winter days accompanied by a cooling breeze that just makes you want to be outside soaking up the lovely weather. Unfortunately though, we are not the only ones who love the change in climate and that wretched little tyrant…the paralysis tick (Ixodes Holocyclus) is on the move again so if you are in those susceptible coastal areas that are home to this little fiend it is time to heighten your prevention strategies! Remember prevention is ALWAYS better and less costly than the cure, these ticks can be deadly!

There are many types of ticks in Australia. The most common being the cattle tick, the bush tick and the paralysis tick.

All ticks feed on the blood of their hosts – but large infestations of cattle and bush ticks are required to cause problems such as anaemia. In comparison, only 1-2 paralysis ticks are needed to cause serious complications in our domestic animals including some livestock.

The paralysis tick is native to Australia and its natural hosts are marsupials including Bandicoots, Echidnas and Wallabies. Continued exposure to these ticks makes these species relatively immune to the paralysis toxin secreted by these ticks. However, they remain as a reservoir for the ticks and a means for their transportation into both our suburban and country lives.

Paralysis ticks have a complicated life cycle and actually spend a significant portion of this cycle on the ground (i.e. NOT attached to their host) and this makes control very difficult. As a consequence our goal in dealing with paralysis ticks is to prevent attachment or use ‘applied’ topical treatments to kill the ticks quickly once they attach.
Available Tick Treatments

Advantix© and FrontlinePlus© are the main ‘top spot’ products available for cats and dogs that are registered for the prevention of paralysis ticks. They must be applied fortnightly; all veterinary clinics will supply these products.

  • There are also a number of permethrin/permoxin based washes that can be used on a regular basis to kill and remove ticks and fleas.
  • Tick collars are also available and can be effective at preventing ticks from attaching.
About the Author
Dr Rebecca KneeDr Knee will provide a column containing information for dog owners to prevent and/or treat common health problems faced by dogs. If you have a particular topic you would like Dr Knee to include in her column, please email us at

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