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Tick Paralysis

This is a condition that is characterized by lower motor neuron paralysis which come about as a result of bites by ticks of the species including Ixodes spp, Amblyomma spp. and Dermacentor spp. The biting ticks introduce salivary neurotoxins which lead to progressive motor paralysis, respiratory depression, and death in animals that have no immunity to the toxin.

The disease is usually found in Sheep, goats and cattle. However, other species such as dogs may be affected. The condition has also been reported in humans. All ages of animals potentially are at risk, and both sexes are equally affected.

The condition has multiple organs/system involvement affecting:

  • Musculoskeletal
  • Digestive
  • Cardiovascular
  • Respiratory
  • Nervous and
  • Hemolymphatic systems.

Clinical Signs

  1. In the initial stages of the disease, the animal is characterized with ataxia and weakness in hind limbs.
  2. As the disease progresses, the hind limns become paralyzed then ascending, flaccid tetraplegia which is symmetrical.
  3. Hypothermia of the affected limbs
  4. Inability to respond to stimuli in both superficial and deep tendons
  5. Dyspnea, dysphagia, inability to regurgitate cud normally, weak facial muscles.
  6. Nystagmus
  7. Death usually results from respiratory muscle paralysis.

Differential Diagnoses

  • Rabies
  • Botulism
  • Spinal cord compression
  • Trauma
  • Acute polyradiculoneuritis
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Myelopathy

Control And Prevention

  1. Timely removal of attached ticks. These can be manually removed or use suitable acaricides.
  2. External parasite sprays or dips can be used to control presence of ticks on animals. This has to done regularly for ultimate control.
  3. In addition, environmental control of ticks should be adopted to better control tick population in the animal environment.

Contact your veterinarian for supportive treatment and care. Do not give corticosteroids to animals with tick paralysis.