​Ticks are parasites that feed on the animal and human blood. Ticks occur in humid, moist bushy areas. They are not very mobile but rely on passing animals to both feed on and transport them. Ticks are known to inject toxins that cause local irritation or mild irritation, however most tick bites cause little or no symptoms. Tick borne diseases, tick paralysis and severe allergic reactions can pose serious health threat.

Tick-borne diseases occurring in Australia are Australian Tick Typhus or 'Spotted Fever' (along the coastal strip of eastern Australia from North Queensland to Victoria) and 'Flinders Island Spotted Fever' (in Victoria, Tasmania and Flinders Island in Bass Strait). Early symptoms of tick paralysis can include rashes, headache, fever, flu like symptoms, tenderness of lymph nodes, unsteady gait, intolerance to bright light, increased weakness of the limbs and partial facial paralysis.

As the tick engorges on more human blood the tick paralysis symptoms may intensify including after the tick has been removed. Clinical diagnosis is confirmed by specific blood tests. Tick typhus is treatable with antibiotics, although fatalities have been known to occur. In some susceptible people tick bite may cause a severe allergic reaction or anaphylactic shock, which can be life threatening. If swelling of the face and throat causes breathing difficulties, seek urgent medical attention.      

Page Updated: Wednesday 25 May 2016