oa South African Medical Journal - Regional tick paralysis : sensory and motor changes caused by a male tick, genus hyalomma

Volume 26, Issue 50
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



1. Tick paralysis is known commonly to occur in domestic animals in Australia, on the American and African continents and in parts of Europe and Asia. Human cases have been reported from the North American continent, Australia and North and South Africa. 2. The disease usually takes the form of an ascending motor paralysis which may be fatal. Children are the chief victims. The condition is probably due to a neurotoxin injected with the saliva of an engorging tick. Cases of regional paralysis have been reported previously only from Australia. The American cases recover sooner after removal of the tick. A case is reported from South Africa, in which a tick bite in the axilla caused extensive, regional, sensory and motor changes in the corresponding arm. Recovery occurred after removal of the tick. The clinical features were quite unlike those of the case of tick paralysis reported from this country. 4. A male Hyalomma transiens was the tick involved. It has not before been known to cause paralysis in man, or has a male tick previously been implicated. 5. Evidence which suggests that Ixodes rubicundus Neum may cause local paralysis in man and further evidence implicating Hyalomma fransiens, is presented. 6. It is suggested that the stage and rate of engorgement are more important for the production of neurotoxin than the sex of the tick. 7. Histological studies of the skin in the region of the bite revealed local inflammatory changes but no gross alteration in related nerve fibres.

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