Interesting story on this week’s Catalyst program: Most people remove ticks incorrectly, and by doing so they vastly increase their chances of developing life-threatening allergic reactions.
NARRATION: It’s an incredible story of scientific detective work with implications for anyone who visits the coast…
Assoc Professor Sheryl van Nunen: We have the highest prevalence in the world.
NARRATION: ..or ever has to remove a tick.
Dr Andrew Ratchford: They are surprised when we tell them that probably the reason is because they’ve been removing the ticks incorrectly.
Dr Jonica Newby: The truth is, if you’ve ever been bitten by a tick you may already have a mild version of MMA and not even realise it.
NARRATION: But it’s not just meat allergy you have to worry about. A growing number of people are becoming allergic to the tick bite itself. And it’s so severe they end up here.
Dr Jonica Newby: Believe it or not, acute life-threatening anaphylaxis to a tick bite is now 25 times as common around here as a severe reaction to a bee sting and it’s a medical emergency.
Dr Andrew Ratchford: People have had bites for 20 years and then all of a sudden this year they’ll come in with an anaphylactic reaction.
Dr Jonica Newby: Bit surprising to them, I imagine. Are people shocked when you explain what it is?
Dr Andrew Ratchford: They are and also shocked when we tell them that probably the reason is because they’ve been removing ticks incorrectly.
Tweezers are tick squeezers – freeze, don’t squeeze (aka Dab, don’t grab)
Also, take more precautions with insect repellents and protective clothing in tick zones.
There’s a lot more information in the full program transcript (or catch the episode on iView).