Monday, September 23, 2013

Post Number 2000: Republishing of my first post ever (December 2009)


Originally published on the 23rd of December, 2009:

Christmas Ticks

Two days till Xmas. It's been a muggy day in Sydney, which is a bit odd, since the 
wind's also up. We're expecting the remnants of the Kimberly's cyclone Laurence 
reaching us on Christmas day, with the rain and such. Not that the weather 
bothers us too much, since we don't celebrate Christmas - the garden could use 
some good rain though.

We went to St Ives on Monday for bushwalking. We've never done this particular 
track, and were pleasantly surprised by the tranquility of the Garigal National 
Park area there. Furthermore, the number of flowering plants was quite 
exceptional for summer (the best time for spring flowers is August).

This morning I made yet another gruesome find. As usual, I took the boys out for 
a walk in the afternoon, and today I felt a tick on George. It was the dreaded 
Australian Paralysis Tick (Ixodes holocyclus):

Now, these pests are a particular problem here where we live, at Sydney's 
Northern Beaches. Both George and Bennie have had them once, both times 
needing antivenom and a night in the vet hospital for observation. They can be 
fatal. Here are the symptoms every dog owner here should know and recognise:

- Weakness in back legs. Walking along then sitting suddenly
- Fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting
- Excessive breathing an panting, even grunting noises

By the way, the two little 'horns' on the opposite site of its mouth are something 
called Hypostome:

A hypostome (also called the maxilla, radula, labium or Unterkiefer), is a calcified harpoon-like 
structure near the mouth area of certain parasitic arthropods including ticks and mites (Order 
Acari), that allows them to anchor themselves firmly in place on a host mammal while sucking 
blood. This mechanism is normally so strong that removal of a lodged tick requires two actions: 
One to remove the tick, and one to remove the remaining head section of the tick.

In the past we've learned how to use force to pull these off; these barbs are 
really embedded on the skin. We called our vet Ross to find out if we need to 
bring George in. Apparently it is not necessary right away, because there're risks 
involved with the antivenom treatment. So we'll be observing him for the next 
few days, and if any symptoms arise (because of gradual spreading of the tick 
poison on his body), it's time for serious treatment then. Note all you dog lovers:  
always check with your vet for the correct action for your own dog or cat.


Francisco de Goya, Spanish, 1746 - 1828
The Marquesa de Pontejos,
 c. 1786, oil on canvas, 210.3 x 127 cm
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC (1937.1.85)

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