Tick season is upon us and as a hotspot for the parasite, people on the Northern Rivers should start checking their pets regularly for them.
Tick season is upon us and as a hotspot for the parasite, people on the Northern Rivers should start checking their pets regularly for them. kamontad123 thinkstock

Two Northern Rivers towns named hotspots for ticks

ALSTONVILLE and Murwillumbah have been named tick hotspots of New South Wales in a study by a parasitologist and animal health company.

Other areas identified included Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Maclean.

Professor Stephen Barker, with support from company Merial, charted the postcodes where at least 50 cases of tick paralysis were reported by veterinarians between October 2010 and April 2015 in order to form a geo-map of cases across the state.

Prof Barker said "the paralysis tick, Ixodes holocyclus, is a potentially lethal parasite”.

Paralysis tick
Identification of paralysis tick Contributed

"Although most postcodes along the eastern seaboard of NSW have paralysis ticks, some postcodes are hotspots for tick paralysis in dogs and cats,” he said.

Symptoms of tick bites

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Altered pupil size
  • Changes in breathing sound or pattern
  • Altered ability to move, particularly with the back legs
  • A change in gum colour
  • Change or loss of voice
  • Coughing
  • Inability to blink in one or both eyes

If these signs are detected it's important the pet owner seeks immediate veterinary attention, minimises stress to the animal and removes any ticks that are found as quickly as possible.

Removed ticks should be kept for identification purposes.

Veterinarian and host of Dr Lisa to the Rescue, Lisa Chimes, suggested pet owners avoid tick habitats such as bush areas during tick season (September-April), keep lawns short, and search pets everyday, especially around the front half of the body.

Talk to your vet about tick prevention tablets or sprays available for your dog or cat.

Hotspots identified during Systematic Tick Mapping Study (Oct 10 - Apr 15)

Alstonville - 180 cases

Murwillumbah - 105 cases

Coffs Harbour - 932 cases

Moruya, Tuross Head, Broulee, Moruya Heads - 806 cases (total)

Sanctuary Point, Vincentia, Old Erowal Bay, Culburra Beach - 352 cases (total)

Port Macquarie - 256 cases

Wyee, Chain Valley Bay - 176 cases (total)

Bodalla - 117 cases

Maclean - 106 cases

Mount Hutton - 103 cases