A Retrospective Cohort Study of Tick Paralysis in British Columbia
Morshed Muhammad, Li Lisa, Lee Min-Kuang, Fernando Keerthi, Lo Teresa, and Wong Quantine. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases. October 2017, ahead of print. https://doi.org/10.1089/vbz.2017.2168https://doi.org/10.1089/vbz.2017.2168

Background: Tick paralysis is a frequently overlooked severe disease characterized by bilateral ascending flaccid paralysis caused by a neurotoxin produced by feeding ticks. We aimed to characterize suspected tick paralysis cases documented at the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) in British Columbia (BC) from 1993 to 2016 and reviewed prevention, diagnosis, and treatment considerations.

Methods: Demographic, geographic, and clinical data from test requisition forms for ticks submitted to the BCCDC Public Health Laboratory (PHL) from patients across BC between 1993 and 2016 for suspected human and animal tick paralysis were reviewed. Descriptive statistics were generated to characterize tick paralysis cases in BC, including tick species implicated, seasonality of disease, and regional differences.

Results: From 1993 to 2016, there were 56 cases of suspected tick paralysis with at least one tick specimen submitted for testing at the BCCDC PHL. Humans and animals were involved in 43% and 57% of cases, respectively. The majority of cases involved a Dermacentor andersoni tick (48 cases or 86%) and occurred between the months of April and June (49 cases or 88%). Among known locations of tick acquisition, the Interior region of BC was disproportionately affected, with 25 cases (69%) of tick bites occurring in that area.

Conclusions: Tick paralysis is a rare condition in BC. The region of highest risk is the Interior, particularly during the spring and summer months. Increasing awareness of tick paralysis among healthcare workers and the general public is paramount to preventing morbidity and mortality from this rare disease.


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