Warning as Aussie toddler 'barely able to breathe' from backyard bug

Populated parts of Sydney are considered the tick 'capital of the world', experts say.

An Aussie mum has urged parents everywhere to be wary of their kids when playing outside, after her toddler was left paralysed and "barely able to breathe" from a tick bite.

Sydney mum Carmelle Leahey, from the city's Northern Beaches, said her 17-month-old son Isaac "couldn't walk anymore" and just went "flat and really floppy" after suffering the bite while playing the the family's backyard, which required him to be hospitalised.

"It was such an ordeal — it was really scary," she told 7News.

“Check your children, check behind their ears, check in between their fingers and toes."

17-month-old Isaac pictured at hospital.
17-month-old Isaac was left hospitalised after suffering a tick bite on Sydney's Northern Beaches. Source: 7News.

Situation could've 'been much worse'

The toddler eventually pulled through after treatment in hospital, but experts say the situation could've been much worse. Thanks to his mother's "quick thinking actions" doctors were able to save his life.

Paralysis ticks are the most common and dangerous species in the country. They can release neurotoxins and can cause meat allergies. Some people "can have such a severe allergic reaction that they can die".

The dangerous critters thrive in dense bushland and prefer to reside along the coast, making the Northern Beaches a major hotspot.

"I think the Northern Beaches of Sydney is the tick capital of the world," Aaron Wagner, from Ticksafe, warned.

Sydney mum Carmelle Leahey pictured in TV interview.
Sydney mum Carmelle Leahey knew something was terrible wrong with her young child. Source: 7News.

Ticks found all over Australia

Ticks are typically found from the tip of Queensland down all the way to Victoria, while on the west coast it's kangaroo ticks people need to be wary of. They survive in dry conditions and can cause infections from long lasting bites.

When it comes to removing them the "worst thing to do is squeeze or flick it off".

Warning to pet owners

And it's not just people who need to be cautious as ticks can cause major problems for our pets too.

"Paralysis ticks are everywhere" NSW vet Dr Joan Gibbons told Yahoo in October, recalling at the time that she had treated 10 animals in the last 10 days at her clinic on the NSW-Queensland border.

"These are intensive care cases," she said. "Most people are more worried about the fact that their animal can't walk but what is much more dangerous for them is the respiratory or cardiac issues involved" from such ticks bites.

Ticks, parasites that feed on animal blood, release a toxin when they bite an animal and the most obvious symptom associated with this is a lack of coordination or wobbliness, with the animal visibly struggling to stand or move.

One Aussie vet has said tick bites are on the rise. Source: Supplied.
One Aussie vet has said tick bites are on the rise. Source: Supplied.

Laboured breathing and grunt noises will indicate the pet is in distress, and any vomiting is considered incredibly dangerous.

"Most animals with a tick have compromised gag reflexes ... If they do vomit, their airway is often not protected. So their prognosis is much poorer for those vomiting," Dr Gibbons said.

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