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Aussie Ticks come with different risks

Aussie Ticks come with different risks

Regular CLL Forum readers would be familiar with warnings about the risk of getting Lyme Disease from ticks However in Australia, no causative agent for this illness has been isolated from local ticks or wildlife, and the most commonly encountered tick in Australia has been shown to be unable to transit the strain of bacteria that causes this. Australia and the Antarctic are the only continents where the 18 different species of bacteria that cause Lyme disease are NOT found.

You are still at risk of getting other infections from ticks in Australia, along with potentially fatal tick paralysis and mammalian meat allergy. The risk of exposure is highest on the east coast of Australia, which is also the most populated part of the continent.

With the different risks from Australian ticks, there is growing consensus that killing the tick in place may be best way to minimise the risk of severe allergic reactions. The article below covers some methods for doing this but highlights the need for some clinical trials to identify the best methods. Any volunteers?

(Includes a reference to an interesting article on the controversy surrounding the diagnosis of Lyme Disease in Australia plus some interesting feedback of anecdotal methods of removing ticks.)


9 Replies

Is it just me, or does the tick in that article have a big cheesy grin on its back?

Very interesting article - thanks Neil. Almost every summer my hubby and I get bitten by ticks, when we're on holiday in Scotland. And every time, we have the dilemma of how best to get them off. We carry round both a "tick card" and a "tommy tick twister" hook, that sometimes work well (slide it under body of tick then twist and lift). It doesn't work for the tiny ticks though. I like the idea of just "freezing" them in situ, rendering them harmless, then letting the dead bodies fall off.

Other advice is to keep to proper tracks and don't "walk wild" through tall grass and other vegetation. Or always cover arms and legs - tuck trousers into thick socks etc. But that's not much fun, especially in hot weather.

Love the kangaroos, by the way...



Ticks, ugh, hideous things. On Isle of Mull recently and was not in long grass. Picked two up walking through woodland on a muddy track used by forestry vehicles. Luckily spotted the scurrying up the outside of my trousers. Note to self light coloured trousers a good first defence. For their size they move fast.

Thats two that will no longer trouble any type of animal.



Hi I live on the east coast of Australia about 2hrs south of Sydney, I would probably get a dozen ticks on me over the course of an average summer. Its the little ones you don't notice that are the biggest worry, by the time you realise you are itchy they have been there for a a few hours or overnight, the get into your clothes and are often on your underwear lines, have found that lately the swelling and itching is a lot worse than it used to be before the CLL, or am I imagining that. Just another thing to ponder. Still won't stop me heading on my bush walks or to our amazing camp sites by the ocean.




PS As for the lovely kangaroos, they eat all the roses in my front garden and what they don't eat the wombats do. :-)


An update on Lyme (like) disease in Australia and why tests for it here are confusing;

Lyme-like disease may result from related unknown bacteria; by Tim Roberts, Professor of Biology at University of Newcastle, Australia :

"People (in Australia) with Lyme disease’s traditional bull’s eye rash could well be carrying the American Borrelia burgdorferi. But those without the rash who test negative to Borrelia burgdorferi may be carrying an Australia-specific Borrelia."



Ticks bring on allergic reaction to eating red meat

Many people on the east coast of Australia and in several other countries, including the south-eastern states of the US, have reported what seems to be a sudden allergy to eating red meat.

From Australia's Science Show on ABC Radio National:

It is thought that the ticks very likely induce an allergy prone immune system in the person that they have bitten, and then the person produces an excess of the IgE antibody and loses their ability to block any allergic reaction to alpha-gal, an antigen in red meat. Prevention might be possible by providing medication at the time of a tick bite to prevent the formation of this alpha-gal specific IgE. Prevalence is thought to about one in 8,000 cases of tick bite in the USA (where about 5,000 cases of red meat allergy are known) and one in 800 in Australia. The problem is that alpha-gal from meat and dairy products finds its way into some surprising places, so those with this potentially fatal allergy need to be extremely careful with their diet and even have to avoid things like makeup, tablets and sutures!



More on the controversy over tick illnesses in Australia - "The great Australian Lyme conspiracy" by Dr Brad McKay, a GP and host of Embarrassing Bodies Down Under.

Judging by the comments, this controversy is not going to go away any time soon...


The latest on Lyme or a Lyme-like disease in Australia from Cameron Webb, Clinical Lecturer and Principal Hospital Scientist, University of Sydney:



'An increasing number of people bitten by Australian native ticks develop an illness with symptoms that are often similar to Lyme borreliosis. These symptoms include feeling unwell, sore or stiff joints and chronic fatigue.

In November 2015, the Australian senate referred this matter for a parliamentary inquiry. The inquiry received over 1,260 submissions, making it one of the largest to date. The final report was released this week.

A total of 12 recommendations included research into prevalence and distribution of tick-borne illnesses and funding for this research, a national strategy for dealing with these illnesses, and guidelines for doctors.


While these 12 recommendations provide a way for us to better understand locally acquired tick-borne infections, scientific research needs to identify tick-borne pathogens, diagnostic tests and effective treatment plans. However, more desperately, is the need for confirmed diagnosis and treatment for hundreds (thousands, even) of Australians fighting illness following a tick bite.'

Charlotte Oskam, Lecturer, Peter Irwin, Principal, College of Veterinary Medicine and Una Ryan Professor in Biochemistry, all of Murdoch University, provide the details here:


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