Ticks

-Ticks are not insects like fleas, flies and lice, but are arachnids like mites and spiders. There are approximately 850 species of ticks worldwide

-The brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus,– This species will also transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and tick-borne typhus to humans. (picture)

-Deer, Blacklegged, and Western blacklegged tick, carry Lyme Disease (picture)

-Symptoms include lack of appetite, listlessness, fever, and swollen joints. Without proper attention the disease can spread to the kidneys and heart.

-There is now a vaccine for Lyme Disease. The first dose usually requires two visits to the Vet. After that, a booster is given every year. Not included in regular vaccines, probably not practical for ferals due to cost

-Bartonella henselae, common name "Cat Scratch Disease" may actually be carried by ticks (and fleas)–not severe in humans, low fevers and swollen nymphy nodes, but the less diseases we have, the better off we are, if you ask me!

-paralysis tick (Ixodes holocycles).

- Paralysis ticks have the ability to kill your cat or dog in 2 to 3 days. The toxin injected by the engorging female tick causes a paralysis of all body muscles and severe breathing problems, resulting in death if not treated.

- There are two main symptoms. The first is an ascending flaccid paralysis from the hindlegs forward. The dog or cat may be observed to be "wobbly" in the back legs and then become completely paralysed over the next 12 to 36 hours. The second main symptom is a harsh or raspy breathing sound with gagging and sometimes salivation. This is due to odema or congestion of the lungs and throat. Both these symptoms will cause death if left untreated.

Other symptoms include, loss of swallow reflex, vomiting, high blood pressure and an inability to urinate. Secondary pneumonia’s can occur.

- If one of the cats in your colony is exhibiting these behaviors, trap them immediatly! And get them to a vet!

picture of tick life cycle

Prevention:

-Ticks live and breed in the cooler areas - under bushes, in sheds, concrete cracks along the side of the house.

-The only way to reduce numbers is to regularly spray these areas each 2 weeks until tick numbers are severely reduced.

-The pruning of bushes from the ground will also help.

-Most of the topical treatments will also prevent or kill ticks, but again this requires getting somewhat close to the ferals.

Treatment:

Of paralysis tick--The main treatment is a tick antiserum. As this prevents further symptoms and does not reverse what has already happened but the sooner it is administered the better. Other supportive therapy for shock, helping respiration, tranquillisation and decreasing blood pressure are also administered.