Tick twisters do work if the tick is big enough. In autumn and maybe other times (as COG discovered on a recent expedition to the South Coast) there can be almost microscopic ticks that are apparently at the first stage of their development cycle. These are too small to remove with twisters or tweezers and mine were cut and scraped out. The freezer spray would have been a better idea in retrospect. See https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2009/190/9/association-between-tick-bite-reactions-and-red-meat-allergy-humans “Box 2” at the bottom for a comparison of tick sizes.
The article mentioned Lyme. Despite the reservations mentioned in the article, there is no doubt by anyone with a working brain who has seen the results that there IS a Lyme-like disease in Australia. It looks like US Lyme, it is transmitted by ticks, it mostly does the same things as US Lyme and the treatment (or lack of it) is the same as for US Lyme. It can be a terrible illness only made worse by lack of support from and knowledge by the medical profession, most especially in Australia but also in US and Europe. Fortunately things are changing and with recent NHMRC involvement it is apparent that “Australian Lyme” will be recognised if not actually treatable in the next few years. There is a lot to learn about Lyme, remember it was only recognised in 1975 and the first pathogen identified 6 years later. It now affects an estimated 100,000 to 400,000 people in the USA and no-one knows why incidence is increasing rapidly. There are some good conspiracy theories on the web.
My message without being unnecessarily alarmist is to take tick bites seriously, at least those from NSW south coast, NSW north coast, and around Sydney, and especially bites by mature ticks that stay on for longer than a few hours and/or cause significant pain, large swelling or circular rashes. Most bites are probably harmless and some people may not be susceptible at all to the Lyme-like infection, but it doesn’t seem smart (from my perspective) to ignore tick bites. Remove them quickly, look for other symptoms and take early action (see a doctor) if suspicious.
I’ve met and heard of quite a few people with Lyme-like symptoms but never one with the allergic responses mentioned in this article. These allergic responses might be more related to Sydney ticks.
From: Anthony Overs [
Sent: Monday, 26 May 2014 18:21
To: muriel story
Cc: Geoffrey Dabb;
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Tackling the tricky task of tick removal - some hardware
I can also highly recommend the Tick Twister. Works a treat. But will be trying the freeze spray now. You can get tick twisters from vets.
I like to get rid of ticks INSTANTLY - it's psychological. One can dose the tick with Lyclear scabies ointment or the "freezing" stuff before removal.
Two cheap and nifty devices remove ticks without squeezing them:
Tick Twister, two per pack, look like miniature plastic jemmies (recommended when I asked Michael Guppy after his COG presentation)
Ticked Off small plastic tool with a demi-spherical head with a small notch in the rim.
I have only been able to buy these at pharmacies the coast - Batemans Bay and Bermagui. They work.
PS I am not an agent or sales rep, just a birder!
On Monday, May 26, 2014, Geoffrey Dabb <m("iinet.net.au","gdabb");">> wrote:
Ahh, campfire topic #11. As a person with high sensitivity to tick bites, I have had many, many conversations with others on this very large subject. - including several COG excursioners. There will be other views, but I am a firm believer in the ‘kill immediately’ approach, generally with insecticide spray. I know someone who carries diesel starter spray for the purpose, and the ‘wart freezer’ suggested in this article also sounds effective.
Although this is not about birds it is certainly relevant to birding:
'Tackling the tricky task of tick removal': http://theconversation.com/tackling-the-tricky-task-of-tick-removal-26306
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