Paralysis Ticks - treatment ideas.

wlmss at PEG.APC.ORG wlmss at PEG.APC.ORG
Sat Jul 1 00:13:07 EST 1995

>From: DARBEN at
>Date: Thu, 29 Jun 1995 14:40:39 +0000 (AUSTRALIA/QUEENSLAND)
>Subject: An unusual foriegn body of the ear (fwd)
>To: forteana <forteana at PrimeNet.Com>
>Given recent topics of conversation, I thought someone might be interested.
>---------- Forwarded message ----------
>Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 21:25:14 -0700
>From: InduDharan Manon <dharan at>
>To: parasite at
>Subject: An unusual foriegn body of the ear
>To Whomsoever it may concern,
>This is to bring your attention to a recent problem which we encountered
>in the city of Kota Bharu in Malaysia. We in the Department of ENT of the
>University Sains Malaysia were faced with an unusual foreign body of the
>ear in some of our patients. Few of them presented with complaints of an
>insect in the ear, while others presented with various comlaints like
>pain, bleeding and vertigo. On examination we found a red haemorrhagic
>bulla which on removal was found to be the blood filled bloated body of a
>tropical cattle tick which was identified as Boopilus microplus. Removal
>of this tick immediately relieved the complaints, though the ear drum is
>partially damaged in most of the cases. One of the most recent cases
>presented with a history of insect in the  right ear and sudden onset of
>right lower motor neuron paralysis of the seventh cranial nerve(facial
>palsy) of three days duration. On examination the finding was a "typical
>haemorrhagic bulla". Due to the history of the insect, we tried removal
>and it was found to be the cattle tick mentioned above. The ear drum was
>torn at the site of attachment of the tick, but the middle ear as could be
>seen through the tear was clean and dry. Surprisingly within 48 hours the
>facial palsy recovered! Is there anybody who know of any neurotoxins or
>enzymes in ticks that can produce neurological manifestations like this in
>animals or man? Is it possible to analyse this tick for any toxin that
>produced facial palsy? I would much appreciate a reply. Thank you,
>Lecturer, Department of Otorhinolaryngology,
>PPSP, University Sains Malaysia,
>16150 Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, MALAYSIA
>                        Fax. 09-7653370
>                        E-mail. dharan at
DON'T try to remove the tick, that is what damages the ear drum.
Dab a household insecticide (pressure-pack type) on it using a
cotton bud. It has to die fast, or it will spit more toxin in.
Educate people for a vital lifestyle change - a careful wash and
change immediately when coming indoors from contact with the forest.
Actually you are probably seeing victims of ecological change, for
these ticks are coming from the fringes of cleared areas.
Watch pets are not bringing them indoors too!
Our ecologies are similar so it is likely the ticks will be too,
based on what you describe. Here, I keep antihistamines on hand. A
single blue phenergen tab will generally banish the symptoms and
rest the patient. But use much less on a child - so as to keep it
awake. Provide a cool, quiet place and plenty to drink and keep
them under observation.
But definitely don't try to pull them off, at least not until
they are well and truly dead. Then it is often best to let
the body come out and leave the head behind, rather than do
further damage to the outraged tissue.
We have at least three types of paralysis tick in North Queensland,
Os. One is smaller than pin-head size when they brush onto an animal
from the underside of a leaf. But I have seen three kill a little
duckling, while I was observing an eclipse! It snuffed out quietly,
they were on its neck and I surmise the chest muscles were affected.
Sometimes you see people - often kids - who have picked up scores
and scores, they aggregate around the warm parts and dig in creating
a rash of bright red spots, each with a black or white soeck at the
centre. A bit of metho or insect repellent takes care of them. The
big risk is infection from scratching. They can be removed with
a finger-nail but it is an art.
Another is known as a shellback, and it is about 1 cm across and
very vigorous. It attaches and over several days swells into a
big purple bubble that drops off when pea-sized. It is a serious
killer, although it never seems to harm its natural host, the
bandicoot. I have seen one kill a kitten, and even larger dogs
and cats can go down from them, usually losing their back legs
first and then finally their breathing when it gets to their
chest muscles - or is it respiratory centre? Once the tick is
killed and removed the animal usually recovers quickly. People have
to hand-inspect larger dogs every day for them when the ticks
are in season. Vets recommend weekly dips in "Asuntol", a brand of
tick dip for our furry friends. It depends on how much exposure
people or animals have to the places where the ticks come from.
If the tick has not really dug in it is often easiest to pick
them off early with tweezers or skilled fingernails.
I have heard of a child dying from one that got in its ear and went
unrecognized. Usually they are found early. One was on a child's
penis. Another was right on the fontanel. Adults often get them
in their hair near the neckline. You feel an ache, then your whole
shoulder gets too sore to move and your head pounds. A guy who used
eucalyptus oil did not kill it but made it spitting mad...he got
really sick, poor guy.
Another type is the burrowing tick. It is rarer. It can kill if you
miss it when it is burrowing in. I just got the arse end of one with
a TINY dab of cocky killer as it vanished under the flesh on the
throat of our tiny dog. That fixed it immediately and I assume she
scratched it out later. It did not poison her -incredibly near miss.
I only assume the Malaysian species might sponsor some sort of
immune response treatable in a crisis with antihistamine drugs.
I have to add I am not a Biologist or a Doctor and speak only
from 30 years or so experience with the blasted things.
Just what long term effect they might have, I know not.
Certainly people and animals develop a degree of tolerance to
them, but what this does to one's general immune response is
another question.
Ticks have their place in the blind scheme of things. They
act to protect tolerant native species from incursions by
less tick-tolerant feral species - e.g. cats, dogs, humans.
The Medical Library at Queensland University shouyld be able to
do a full search for you - try keywords TICK  TICK_FEVER
                   Good luck,
                                       Lawrie Williams

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