iconLyme Disease in Australia

Presently there are no official statistics on the number of people suffering from Borreliosis (Lyme Disease) in Australia. There was a Lyme/Lyme-like disease which was reported from a sufferer in the Newcastle region of NSW back in 1982.  There are lots of debates on the existence of Lyme Disease in Australia and here at Garrards we believe it is best to be proactive rather than reactive.


Understanding ticks:

Ticks are blood-feeding parasites that live in long grasses and bushland. They crawl up the stems of grasses or along branches and perch with their front logs extended, ready to latch on to an animal or human that may brush past them.  Most tick bites result in minor sympotoms but occasionally people can develop a severe allergic reaction.

There are 850 known species of ticks around the world with 75 being found in Australia.

Understanding tick-borne diseases:

Ticks can infect us with many different diseases, whenever involved in activies in high risk tick areas always carefuly check clothing and your body for ticks.  Remembering tick larvae and nymphs are extremely small.

Major tick-borne diseases include:

Lyme Disease
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Ehrlichiosis anaplasmosis
Relapsing fever
Colorado tick fever
Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever
and Tick paralysis.

Although not are all in Australia, ticks can cause symptoms not listed and allergic reactions which may or may not be fatal.

Tick prevention:

The best way to prevent tick bites is to avoid tick-infested areas.

If this is not possible, wear appropriate clothing such as:

  • long sleeved shirts.
  • long pants tucked into socks.
  • wide brimmed hat.
  • light coloured clothing (makes it easier to see ticks on clothes before they attach to the skin).
  • Shower (within two hours) soon after being outdoors has shown to reduce your risk of being bitten by a tick.
  • Heating up clothing by using your dryer on high heat for a least an hour effectively kills any potential ticks on clothing that you may have come in contact with.
  • Insect repellent containing diethylmeta-toluamide (DEET) or picaridin should be applied to clothing and skin before going into tick infested areas. The repellent should be applied and re-applied according to the manufacturer's instructions.

All clothing should be removed after visiting tick infested areas and the entire body checked for ticks. Pay particular attention to areas behind the ears, back of the head, neck, under arms, inside belly button, back of knees, between legs and around waist.

Tick removal process:

Remove ticks with pointy tweezers as soon as possible.

Remove a tick as soon as possible after locating it. Use fine pointed tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Gently pull the tick straight out with steady pressure. If you have difficulties seek medical attention. Do not try to kill the tick with methylated spirits or any other chemicals. This will cause the tick to inject more toxins. If you have a severe infestation by larval stage ticks (often referred to as grass ticks) take a bath for 30 minutes with 1 cup of bicarbonate of soda.

Note: If you are allergic to ticks, seek urgent medical attention and treatment prior to removal.

Remove by:

Use fine pointed tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible
With steady force, gently pull the tick out
Apply disinfectant to the bitten area after removal
If you have difficulty removing the tick or suffer any symptoms after removal, seek medial attention

Common mistakes:

Don't use folklore remedies (such as matches or pins) - this will irritate the tick and make it harder to completely remove.

A tick's mouthpiece is barbed, not spiralled, so twisting the tick to pullit out doesn't help.

For Pest Control Operators:

Contact your local Garrards branch for the latest products in tick control.

For consumers:

Contact your local pest controller for different methods of controlling ticks around your home.

Contact information (consumers):

For further assistance contact:

Your medical practitioner
Poisions Information Centre (13 11 26)
Local Council Environmental Health Officer
Department of Health in your local State