The paralysis tick (I. holocyclus) causes widespread serious disease and death in domestic pets and livestock along Australia's eastern seaboard.

Ticks can kill animals within five days of attachment. Cattle tick (Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus) spends its whole parasitic stage on one host, so can be easily controlled by regular chemical treatment, vaccination or breeding. In contrast, control is much harder with domestic animals, as I. holocyclus is a three-host tick and primarily uses bandicoots as a host. Infestations and associated disease in domestic animals are sporadic, unpredictable and have grave consequences.

People can be exposed to ticks at most times of the year in infested gardens, parks and bushland. The larvae, nymphs and adults are a considerable nuisance to people with allergic and hypersensitive reactions to bites. Occasionally, ticks can cause grave disease and death in children, as they're also a vector of Rickettsia australis, the aetiological agent of Queensland tick typhus, a serious human bacterial disease.

Bandicoots are a protected and valuable element of Australia’s native fauna and have considerable conservation value, so eliminating them from an area isn't a viable control measure. The only current control measures are area-wide application of pesticides with environmental and safety hazards, frequent and regular treatment of animals with topical or systemic acaricides and, for people, the wearing of protective clothing and application of insect repellents or pesticides to skin and clothing.

This project aims to develop a practical, safe, easy-to-use medicated bait that householders, pet owners, farmers, pest-control agents and councils can use to control infestations of I. holocyclus without harming wildlife.

Location: Gatton campus, with possible fieldwork in several other Queensland locations

Supervisors: Associate Professor Peter Murray

Before you apply: contact the primary supervisor for more details

Project start subject to: UQ animal ethics approval

Project members