Ticks on Acid
A found and removed 3-4mm tick (when measured across the abdomen) has been attached for around 3 to 4 days and injected enough holocyclotoxin to kill an average size dog though luckily not straight away. The toxin needs to be absorbed by local lymphatics, find its way into the bloodstream, leach out and transit to its’ target organs, where it binds and stops nerve transmission. Untreated pets tend to die between days 5 to 7 after attachment.
Tick antiserum can inactivate any toxin from the bloodstream back, but is unable to “chase” the toxin once in “transit”, so it works better the earlier you give it. This transit toxin is the reason why pets can deteriorate despite treatment, and why a “wait and see (die?)” strategy is a bad idea.
Pets on Acid
One of the leading causes of paralysis tick fatalities has a remarkable similarity with ocean acidification, carbon dioxide. Climate change denialist regularly state that atmospheric CO2 is an unreactive gas, but what they conveniently forget to tell you is that in liquid, it becomes a volatile, reactive acid.
Tick affected pets develop paralysed, exhausted breathing muscles and become unable to “blow off” CO2 which builds up in the body, just like elevated atmospheric CO2 is building up in our oceans. CO2 reacts with water to form carbonic acid. Luckily both the ocean and our bodies have buffer systems that eat up spare hydrogen ions which helps stabilise the pH.
When these buffer systems are exposed to increasing levels of CO2 they can become overwhelmed, with catastrophic results. Respiratory acidosis causes cerebral edema, coma and death. Ocean acidification will eventually overwhelm the carbonate buffer system dissolving calcium carbonate, an important structural component of corals, crustaceans, sea urchins, molluscs, algae and phytoplankton. The future of reef based marine ecosystems, fisheries and tourism is bleak.
Simply remove the excess CO2. In tick affected animals we place them in an induced coma and ventilate with a life support system until the tick toxin wears off. However, with our oceans, there is no way to remove the CO2 once it has been absorbed. The only practical long term solution is to reduce its’ emission into the atmosphere.