Grahame W.

on his experience with anaphylaxis to a tick bite

I have spent my lifetime working in the bush and a lot of time in the garden. At the age of 64 I had an anaphylactic reaction to a tick bite. This was followed twelve months later by a very similar reaction to another tick bite. During my time as a Land Surveyor I have worked in the bush and have previously been attacked by ticks but never before had such a reaction.

On both occasions I believe I was attacked by an adult Ixodes holocyclus with similar results. The first time I had an itch on my scalp which I scratched only to find that there was something present. On examination it was identified as a tick and was removed by my wife using a pair of tweezers. Almost immediately I could feel a strange sensation pass from my scalp down through my body. This was followed by intensely itchy palms and itchy soles of my feet. Then welts began to appear all across my body, followed by tingling around the mouth and swelling of the lips. At this stage, some 15 minutes after the removal of the tick it was decided that I should go to hospital. By the time I reached the hospital I felt that my throat was constricting and my breathing was quite shallow.

At the hospital I was given intravenous adrenalin, prednisone and antihistamines. Almost immediately the symptoms started to subside and within an hour I felt normal again. Following the trip to hospital my GP prescribed an “Epipen” which I now carry with me on my travels.

My second episode was almost exactly a year later with the same symptoms. Once again the tick was removed from my scalp by the use of tweezers with very similar results.

This time an ambulance was called and under instruction from the operator from 000 the “Epipen” was administered. The relief from the symptoms was almost immediate however the ambulance insisted that I should travel to hospital where I spent the next four hours in Emergency.

As a result of the second episode I was advised by my GP that I should seek further medical advice from a Specialist in the allergies to ticks including the removal and treatment of tick bites. Part of the advice I received was that I should never remove a tick by using tweezers but should instead use an ether-based spray product to kill the tick. I always carry the “Epipen” with me whenever I travel and also have the ether based spray as part of the first aid equipment. I now am very aware of the dangers of ticks and take appropriate action whenever I am outside and in the bush.

We live near a National Park and consequently have a number of possums and bandicoots that frequent our yard. As a result I try to avoid contact with low branches and bushes whenever I am outside. In addition I use insect repellent whenever I am working in the garden. I am now much more aware of the presence of ticks however I try not to allow this to interfere with my enjoyment of the outdoors. I believe that if I am careful I can still continue with the activities I formerly enjoyed.