Tick paralysis is a sudden, progressive motor paralysis caused by a salivary toxin that attacks the nervous system. Certain species of ticks are known to cause tick paralysis. People (especially children) and many other animals may be affected. Human cases of tick paralysis caused by the genera Ixodes, Dermacentor, and Amblyomma have been reported in Australia, North America, Europe, and South Africa. These 3 genera plus Rhipicephalus, Haemaphysalis, Otobius, and Argas have been associated with paralysis in animals. Cats seem to be resistant to the disease caused by these ticks, except in Australia where -Ixodes holocyclus causes a severe and often fatal paralysis in cats.
Topical treatment with any product to kill attached ticks must only be done with chemicals that are safe for use in cats. In Australia, treatment for Ixodes holocyclus paralysis involves a specific anti-serum (tick hyperimmune serum), in addition to treatment to minimize stress and support respiration (see Brain, Spinal Cord, and Nerve Disorders of Dogs: Tick Paralysis in Dogs).
Last full review/revision July 2011 by William B. Thomas, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Neurology); Kyle G. Braund, BVSc, MVSc, PhD, FRCVS, DACVIM (Neurology); Cheryl L. Chrisman, DVM, MS, EDS, DACVIM (Neurology); Caroline N. Hahn, DVM, MSc, PhD, DECEIM, DECVN, MRCVS; Charles M. Hendrix, DVM, PhD; Karen R. Munana, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Neurology); T. Mark Neer, DVM, DACVIM; Charles E. Rupprecht, VMD, MS, PhD; Robert Wylie, BVSc, QDA