Ticks, People and Allergies
Whilst our focus is the prevention and treatment of paralysis tick affected pets, did you know that paralysis ticks can induce life threatening anaphylaxis in people either by themselves or via an induced red meat allergy? Interestingly both of these may be easily prevented by killing the tick at the attachment site before removal.
Ticks and Allergies
Sheryl van Nunen is a clinical immunologist at Royal North Shore Hospital. She has written an excellent article which can be found here [if you are at the blog section of our website…]. In it she discusses the three main tick allergies being localised, mammalian meat allergy and tick anaphylaxis.
Centred at the tick attachment site, localised allergy appears red, inflamed and swollen. Uncomfortable but not dangerous it responds to ice, immobilisation/elevation, antihistamines, cortisone and antibiotics.
Mammalian Meat Allergy [MMA]
MMA is an emerging allergy in tick endemic areas in Australia [Sydney Basin, Noosa and South Coast] and the USA. Affected adults and children have a delayed reaction about 2-10 hours after the ingestion of red meat [or gelatine or cow milk products] which can range from diffuse itchiness, gastrointestinal symptoms to life threatening anaphylaxis. They invariably have a history of tick bites and a localised allergy.
First discovered in 1940, it is almost exclusively an Australian issue only seen in adults and caused by the disturbance or removal of an adult female paralysis tick. The allergic reaction is severe [often requiring adrenaline] but only occasionally lethal and, most interesting of all, is unlikely to occur if the tick is killed in situ ie killed before removal.
Killing Ticks In Situ
In people the recommendation is to “Freeze it don’t squeeze it” with ether based sprays eg Wart Off or Medi Freeze Skin Tag Remover available at chemists. The frozen tick should then be left to drop off by itself. The tick must not be disturbed, scratched or pulled out. If not feasible, fine tipped forceps, used carefully to avoid squeezing the salivary glands and ideally performed by a healthcare professional in an appropriate medical facility. If done correctly this may also avoid the development of MMA.