Ohli is a 4-year-old female spayed Pomeranian mixed breed dog. Ohli was traveling with his owners from Virginia to northern Michigan in April 2016. The dog presented to a veterinary clinic in Michigan with paralysis of all four limbs coupled with dyspnea and dysphagia. Upon thorough examination, four ectoparasites were found attached on the right pinna and dorsal neck area. What is causing the paralysis and what are these ectoparasites?
Case contributed by Rycki Hill, LVT and Dr. Hannah Vanos, Northwood Animal Hospital
Tick paralysis caused by infestation with Dermacentor variabilis. Tick paralysis is a neurologic toxicosis resulting from unidentified toxins in tick saliva. In the United States, infestations with Dermacentor spp. are most often implicated for causing tick paralysis in animals and humans. However, bites from other tick species including Ixodes, Amblyomma, and Rhipicephalus may result in paralysis of a variety of animals throughout the world. Prompt removal of all attached ticks alleviates the paralysis almost as quickly as the neurologic condition set in. Application of an approved acaracide helps prevent and control future infestations.
Additional Reading and Information:
Companion Animal Parasite Council. 2016. CAPC Recommendations: Ticks. Available at http://www.capcvet.org/capc-recommendations/ticks/
Diaz, JH. 2010. A 60-year meta-analysis of tick paralysis in the United States: A predictable, preventable, and often misdiagnosed poisoning. Journal of Medical Toxicology 6: 15–21.
Edlow, JA, and DC McGillicuddy. 2008. Tick paralysis. Infectious disease clinics of North America: 22: 397–414
Otranto, D, F Dantas-Torres, VD Tarallo. RAD Ramos, D Stanneck, G Baneth, D de Caprariis. 2012. Apparent tick paralysis by Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Acari: Ixodidae) in dogs. Veterinary Parasitology 188: 325–329
Have feedback on the cases or a special case you would like to share? Please email us. We will appropriately credit all submittors for any cases and photos provided.