November 24, 2020

We need to talk about the hitchhiker tick

We need to talk about the hitchhiker tick
Dr. Chris Brown

Sure at this time of year we worry about dogs and cats getting ticks. But very few people know about the hitchhiker tick...

Take your furry family for a walk (or holiday) to coastal bushland areas during spring and summer and you’ll probably be worried about them picking up a paralysis tick. But in the vet clinic, I have seen cases of tick paralysis when pets haven’t been anywhere near high risk areas. But their human family have.

Welcome to the phenomenon of the hitchhiker tick. In rare cases, dogs and cats have become paralysed by ticks that travel home on people (or their clothes, bags, towels) and then jump off onto a waiting, tail wagging host in your home.

Make no mistake, it’s a rare phenomenon. And hitchhiker ticks generally won’t reattach if they’ve already tried to feed off us. But if you see tick paralysis signs (weak back legs, cough, grunting breathing, vomiting) then a hitchhiker tick should be a consideration.

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