IT might seem a bit odd but the Tamborine Mountain Medical Centre recommends using a car engine product called Start ya Bastard to help remove ticks.
The spray is designed to help start car engines and is also recommended by the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy as a rapid means of tick removal because it contains ether that freeze-dries the tick and kills it instantly.
Tamborine Mountain Medical Centre registered nurse Judy Jaeger said once the spray, also known as Aerostart was applied, the tick could be removed in about 30 seconds.
“The spray freezes the tick instantly but the product is designed to be used in garages so people should do some research before using it at home because it is possible they could have a reaction to what is in the ether spray,” she said.
The federal government Health Department says that before removal, ticks could be sprayed with an aerosol insect repellent containing pyrethrin, although there was no evidence this was of benefit.
Irritant chemicals like methylated spirits or kerosene should not be used and the tick should be removed with fine-tipped forceps.
Ms Jaeger said her Scenic Rim practice often saw people who had ticks on them or had reacted to a bite.
“We probably see about two or three patients a week,” she said. “So far they have just been bush or scrub ticks, not paralysis ticks.
“Some people have a mild reaction to the bite in varying degrees from slight redness and swelling to anaphylaxis.”
Anaphylaxis, a severe immune reaction, could have life-threatening consequences and Ms Jaeger said it was important to seek medical attention if any signs appeared after a tick bite, even for people who managed to remove the tick themselves.
“If there is any swelling around the throat causing difficulty swallowing or breathing dial 000 immediately,” she said. “If you can’t remove the tick, take antihistamine medication and see your doctor to have the tick removed.
“If you have removed the tick but there are any mouth parts still under your skin, just leave it alone. Don’t try and dig it out because it will be expelled on its own.
“You should see your doctor if you develop a rash, perhaps with flu-like symptoms or sore muscles within one to four weeks of a tick bite.”
Beaudesert veterinarian Stephen Tanner from A+ Vets said tick season was well underway in the Scenic Rim.
“We are certainly seeing more tick bites than we did this time last year,” he said.
“Probably because of the weather conditions, with kangaroos and bandicoots coming closer to populated areas.
“So pet owners need to be vigilant about tick prevention because we are seeing three or four dogs and cats a week.
“Prevention is less expensive and troublesome than treatment.”
Mr Tanner said the best thing to do after finding a tick would be to remove it as soon as possible.
‘There’s a tick removal tool you can get from your vet but even if you remove the tick you should make your vet aware because your pet could still develop symptoms 12 to 24 hours after being bitten.
“Even if you pull the head off, at least the tick is dead. It’s a bit of an old wives tale about the head causing problems if you don’t get it out.”
He said signs to look for include weakness in the back legs, a wobbly gait, change of voice, panting and difficulty breathing.