We moved from bustling city life for health and wellness purposes: away from excessive EMF exposure, pollution of the noise and respiratory type to be surrounded by healing nature. However, it turned out that the Northern Suburbs of Sydney, although bushy and green, holds hidden health issues of it’s own – and they are in nearly everyones back garden. No, no, I’m not talking about deadly funnel web spiders (in case you’re wondering we do have those in our garden too) but the itzy bitzy teeny weeny tick.
Our first experience with a tick in our garden was last year, Christmas eve, eve to be exact when our current foster cat Olly-Kins emerged from the bushes to our lawn in clear respiratory distress and neurologically unsteady. My super dooper intuition kicked in and like a psychic in action I immediately placed my hand over his fur (long haired rag doll, he had a LOT of it), pulled back the fur in the exact spot the gross deadly paralysis tick was feeding. Olly used one of his nine lives up and survived after a stint in hospital.
I told my girls to stay away from the bushes: “Don’t go in them!” – now it was confirmed we had ticks in our garden. Although humans can and do get Tick Bite Paralysis it was the threat of two other nasties that I was more concerned about: Lyme Disease (or Lyme-Like Disease as it is known here until the pathogen responsible for these chronic debilitating symptoms is confirmed). And something bizarre and scary that you may not have heard of: Mammalian Meat Allergy (MMA) otherwise known as Red Meat Anaphylaxis. One teeny bite from one tiny tick (which may go unnoticed) is leading to an increasing number of people here on Sydney’s North Shore experiencing anaphylactic reactions not only to red meat itself but also to the smell and other food products that may contain traces. So being Vegan, as we are, is in no way protective. After our experience of hell on earth post Hana’s brain tumour there was no way I wanted to venture into another hell of Lyme symptoms and deadly allergies after moving from city to bushy safety, so I was, in a way, rather paranoid about the luscious green vegetation in our garden.
Roll on a few months – Hana and Maryam were causally pulling up some dead leaves from a rather reedy planet in our garden – not in the the flower bed by any means. That afternoon Maryam came down with a headache and fatigue but the ticks remained unnoticed until we were shopping in Chatswood the next day. Hana had three ticks feeding on her neck and Maryam had one on her face. I froze the critters with “Wart Off” that I had already stocked in my first aid cabinet in preparation for ticks, Maryam’s actually leapt of her face when I sprayed it, (she totally freaked out), Hana’s took longer to fall out. Freezing them is recommended over pulling them in case the head is left under the skin which can cause infections in addition to the violence of squeezing which will stimulate the tick to release more infected saliva (see video below on how to remove a tick safely).
Hana was fine but Maryam became quickly unwell, she was nauseous, headache, dizzy and fatigued. I knew this was a sign she may have contracted a lyme like disease and so headed to one GP (just in case he knew about these things – I was wrong) who said to do nothing, so I then went home and googled the Lyme Disease Association Australia who, angelically in my mind, replied within matter of hours, listing of Lyme Aware GPs. One happened to be down the road and, funnily enough, happened to have been my neighbour when we lived in bustling Bondi Junction (so funny!). He prescribed two weeks of antibiotics for Maryam as a preventive for the development scary lyme disease.
At the same time I skyped my homeopath for supportive homeopathy and we started the girls on Ledum 200c which is an excellent remedy for tick bite related illnesses. Maryam stayed unwell for more than two weeks but then began to perk up again. However she and I were too scared to go back into the garden to play and do the weeding – this was no way to live and the threat of chronic and life threatening diseases and symptoms were all too real so I called Aaron from Tick Safe — for help.
Aaron understood my reluctance to spray my garden with chemicals having had a fully organic garden himself only a few years back. He shared that there are many people who face these sort of ethical descisions like me, who also don’t like using chemicals. After he patiently went over my concerns I decided that the best thing was to spray our garden – crunch time was when he told me that the carpet in my bedroom would, also by law, have been sprayed with the very same chemicals!
I must say it’s a great relief to know we can go out there safely now. So – I asked Aaron some questions about ticks and his products for you guys to have a ponder on:
Why are ticks such a problem in Northern Sydney?
“Ticks have spread into new areas due to the increase in native wildlife from the highly successful 1080 fox baiting programs conducted by Northern Sydney Councils. By removing the alpha predator, it has allowed the native species to flourish.” (and these native guys carry in the ticks!).
How do your products work?
“We regularly encounter scepticism that our treatments will be effective, people think that ticks will just come back as wildlife enters the garden. Our treatments leave you with residual protection that will keep killing new ticks entering the garden for months to come.
The products that we apply biodegrade under UV light over time, after 6 months the products will have biodegraded to the extent that your protection will tail off and new ticks will be able to survive. The products chemically bind to organic matter and repel water, this means that they will not wash off in the rain at all.”
Are the chemicals you use dangerous to humans and pets?
“Synthetic pyrethroids are widely used throughout Australia in food production and forestry. They are registered for use within kitchens and schools and public places.
Synthetic pyrethroids are commonly used in many household products due to their low toxicity to mammals, including head lice treatments that are applied directly to a human scalp. These treatments are of higher toxicity to humans than the products that we use and that is before we dilute the product with water at a ration of 100:1!”
There is loads of info on Tick Safe so have a look and let me know your tick stories – if you are unlucky enough to have one!
How to safely remove a Tick