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Be on the lookout for ticks

Dr Jillian Kelly - District Veterinarian

Recently a cat belonging to a farming family from near to Coonamble became unwell and was diagnosed by the staff at North West Vets Coonamble as having tick paralysis.

This was a noteworthy case, as paralysis ticks are not normally found west of the great divide. In this case, the cat had not left the district and the family had not been on holiday to the coast recently. Although it is hard to be sure, it is likely that the tick came to the property in recently acquired sugar cane hay from the north east corner of NSW.

Local Land Services staff and veterinarians were already concerned about weed species and chemical residues being introduced with fodder to farms in the area, but this case has highlighted that there could also be other nasties like ticks hiding in the hay.

There are several species of ticks, and the best way to identify which species you are dealing with is by looking at the leg colour and spacing.  We are interested mainly in identifying paralysis ticks, which have four pale cream coloured legs, and four darker brown coloured legs; and cattle ticks, which have eight pale cream legs.

Paralysis ticks are life threatening to small animals like dogs, cats, calves and foals; while cattle ticks are a notifiable pest under the Biosecurity Act 2015 in NSW and spread tick fever which will cause illness and death in cattle.  While it is most likely too hot and dry for ticks to survive, reproduce and multiply in our area, a single introduced tick can live for 2-3 months.

Local veterinarians and Local Land Services staff are recommending that you check your pets for ticks daily, keep pets away from hay storage areas if it has come from coastal areas, consider using suitable tick control (get advice from your private vet about which products are best for your pets) and if you find ticks, put the tick in a clean jar, and drop it in at your private vet clinic or nearest Local Land Services Office.