Ticks are well known disease-spreading arachnids in the United States. But are ticks problematic in other countries? The United States is definitely home to the largest amount of victims who have fallen ill from tick-borne illnesses. However, a recent tick-related story from Australia involved a tick-attack that Americans would have a hard time imagining. Not long ago a family of three enjoyed a pleasant picnic in a picturesque Australian grass field. After the picnic each family member noticed something very different. A mother, a father and there four year old son experienced uncontrollable urges to itch every area of their bodies. Shortly thereafter all three family members developed painful stomach cramps, and the young boy’s asthma began to flare up. One symptom led to even more serious symptoms until the young boy became violently ill. After several examinations spanning several weeks medical professionals finally identified the culprit, or culprits to be accurate. Each family member had fallen ill as a result of tick bites. The young boy sustained thirty four different tick bites, all of which were found embedded in his skin. The type of ticks that were responsible for the tick-borne illness are native only to Australia, and they can be deadly. These terrifying bloodsuckers are commonly referred to as “grass ticks”.


Grass ticks are officially known as Ixodes holocyclus and they are disease spreading parasitic arachnids that infect all types of mammalian life. These ticks are found in humid regions of eastern Australia and they are especially active in temperate rainforest regions. These ticks never rest as they can infect people and animals all year round. Due to the health complications that follow these tick bites, grass ticks are also referred to as “paralysis ticks”. These ticks penetrate skin with their mouthparts in order to feed on a victim’s blood. Initial symptoms are expressed with local itchiness and hard lumps where penetration occurred. Over several days, all ticks remaining on a victim’s body retain blood which causes them to grow larger. At this point victims experience flu-like symptoms. Partial paralysis to the face occurs. This paralysis is also accompanied by weakened limbs. If treatment is not sought in a timely manner, death from anaphylactic shock can result. The family that had sustained numerous bites from these ticks eventually had to travel overseas in order to be properly diagnosed. The family members had acquired dangerous bacterias known as Bartonella and Borrelia. After several long weeks the family had finally been diagnosed with a tick-borne illness. As a result of the advanced state of their disease, the family members now require medical attention on a daily basis.


Had you ever heard of grass ticks before? Do the symptoms caused by grass ticks remind you of the symptoms of lyme disease?


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