The warmer months in South East Queensland are a great time to be outdoors but it is also the time of year that ticks are out in force.

Seqwater Recreation and Catchment Operations Supervisor Matthew Wellington said ticks thrive in warm and humid conditions and it resulted in an increase in tick bites during the spring and summer months.

“Paralysis ticks are one of the most common species found in our water catchment areas and are often in areas of high humidity, especially in gullies or places with lush vegetation,” Mr Wellington said.

According to the Australian Department of Health, most tick bites pose no medical problems if the tick is removed promptly, apart from some localised swelling and redness at the bite site.

However, in some cases people can experience more severe conditions such as tick paralysis or allergic reactions including anaphylactic shock.

Paralysis ticks are not particularly mobile and rely on passing animals for a blood meal.

They will crawl up grass stems or along branches and ‘perch’ ready to latch on to a passing animal. Seqwater employees, such as rangers, always wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, which helps keep ticks away from the skin.

“Our people routinely check their bodies at the end of each day to make sure they’re not carrying a tick,” Mr Wellington said. “People can also minimise the risk of tick bites by using appropriate insect repellents.”

With warmer weather and longer days, Mr Wellington said more people were spending time outdoors and using Seqwater’s recreational areas and encouraged visitors to play it safe.

“Parents should check their children after returning from possible tick infested areas,” Mr Wellington said.

Australian paralysis tick (Ixodes Holocyclus) Photo:Peter Waters - Shutterstock

Removing ticks

  • The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy advise that the recommended safe tick removal method - if you are not allergic to ticks - is to kill the tick using an ether-containing spray such as Wart-Off Freeze or Elastoplast Cold.
  • It will take approximately 10 minutes for the tick to die. You can then leave the tick to drop off naturally or see a health care professional for removal by fine-tipped surgical forceps.
  • Other alternative methods to remove the tick once it has died include using a tick removal device to lever the tick out or ‘the knot method’, which involves making a loose half-hitch in a thread such as a piece of dental floss. The open knot is slipped over the tick as close as possible to the skin and then pulled taut. 
  • If you have difficulty removing the tick or suffer any symptoms after removal, seek medical attention urgently. 
  • Do not use tweezers. Remember, ‘tweezers are tick squeezers’ – squeezing a dead tick will squirt allergen into the host.