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Tick Paralysis

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Clinical Signs

Tick paralysis is an acute, progressive, ascending motor paralysis. Clinical signs in dogs appear usually 5 to 7 days after the attachment and progress rapidly over the following 24 to 48 hours. Early signs may include change or loss of voice, hind limb incoordination, change in breathing rate and effort, gagging or coughing, regurgitation or vomiting, and pupillary dilation. Hind limb paralysis begins as slight to pronounced incoordination and weakness. As the fore limbs get affected, the animal becomes unable to move hind and fore limbs, stand, sit, or lift its head. Sensation usually is preserved.

Breathing abnormality is the main prognostic factor. Respiratory rate may initially increase but, as the disease progresses, becomes slower and obviously labored, especially on expiration. Regurgitation of esophageal contents, saliva pooling, depression of the pharyngeal reflex and attempts to clear the throat may produce a characteristic harsh, groaning respiratory sound.

Further information

  • Edlow JA, McGillicuddy DC: Tick paralysis. Inf Dis Clin North Am. 2008, 22, 397-414
  • Gordon BM, Giza CC: Tick paralysis presenting in an urban environment. Pediatr Neurol. 2004, 30, 122-4
  • Malik R, Farrow BR: Tick paralysis in North America and Australia. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 1991, 21, 157-71
  • Wright IG, Stone BF, Neish AL: Tick (Ixodes holocyclus) paralysis in the dog – induction of immunity by injection of toxin. Aust Vet J. 1983, 60, 69-70

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