Andrew C.

on his experience with anaphylaxis to a tick bite

After living and playing in and around the bush for the last fifty years and suffering numerous tick bites in the process I was shattered when after being bitten on the crown of my head, I suffered an anaphylaxis and ended up in Mona vale Hospital in the triage express lane.

The first time you suffer an anaphylactic reaction is frightening, it proceeds at quite a pace. First there is an excruciating pain when you incorrectly remove the tick, then a burning sensation radiates around your body from the bite site and your palms of feet itch and sting, this happened within five minutes and was the first indication that there was something wrong with me. At this stage I had no idea how far or how fast the episode would progress-a very frightening experience.

My wife and I were at home in Elvina Bay, a water access only community on the Western Foreshores of Pittwater, and with no idea of how serious the situation could become, we made the decision to jump in a boat and get to the hospital as quickly as possible. By the time we climbed ashore my nose, ears and lips felt numb and rubbery. I never had any trouble breathing or constriction of the airway and I did not require adrenaline.

All in all however it was a very unpleasant experience.

One of the most upsetting aspects was the thought that I would have to curtail my outdoor activities including my involvement in the RFS and carefree wandering around Elvina Bay and its environs.

After a visit to a clinical immunologist and allergist, she allayed many of my concerns and showed me a better way to remove ticks without nearly killing myself. I have used the ether-containing aerosol spray a couple of times already and I am still here to tell the tale. Although I now have an EpiPen as a constant companion in the bush and I am a little better educated, my lifestyle has changed very little for which I am very thankful.

I am very lucky and I have not developed an allergy to red meat- that would be a lifestyle change I may not be able to handle.

It is important to many of us that the TiARA (Tick-induced Allergies Research and Awareness) Fund receives the support to allow continued research into tick allergies. Many, many people suffer from various forms of tick allergies and as our cities extend more into the urban fringes the problem will become more common. The more knowledge we can disseminate, the more people we can help to live with tick-induced allergies.