Bites from the tiny insects known as ticks can cause paralysis and death in human beings, an expert warned today.
Responding to the case of a girl who was found with ticks in her ears, Dr Mingkwan Wichaidit, director of the Institute of Dermatology, said the problem can be tackled by using tweezers to remove the insects and then applying a topical medicine to treat the inflamed bites.
However, in some cases, people can be paralysed after suffering tick bites, she said.
Paralysis can occur four to six days after being bitten, but the victim usually recovers after the ticks are removed from their skin, Dr Mingkwan explained.
In severe cases, however, the condition can lead to respiratory failure and death.
The illness is caused by a neurotoxin in the tick’s saliva.
Because the toxin lies in the tick’s salivary glands, care must be taken to remove the whole tick – including the head – or symptoms may persist.
Thai ticks also carry Lyme disease, another condition that can be fatal to humans.
In the case of the girl, her school contacted doctors to have the ticks safely removed from her ears and head, said Dr Somsak Akksilp, Department of Medical Services’ director general.
He added that most people who are bitten by ticks will feel no pain, since the insect’s saliva also contains a substance that numbs the skin.