|by Bruce Hymers
Joy of joys; the tick season is once again with us! These creatures which inspire the same primeval revulsion as cockroaches and their like are stirring in the undergrowth as you read this, ready to cling to your beloved pet and gorge themselves on a hundred times their own body-weight of its blood. They lurk patiently in even the most apparently barren outdoor areas, often clinging with only two of their six legs to a blade of dry grass, ready to snatch at the merest wisps of fur on a passing animal. They then head for their favourite retreats; around the face and neck or between the toes. They are blessed with the ability to detect moving shadows, the odors of their preferred hosts, vibration, and even exhaled carbondioxide. This, along with their knack of being able to live for up to eighteen months without food or water, means there is little or no sanctuary for hapless pets.
Ticks can carry any of a multitude of diseases including Lyme Disease and Typhus, though such cases are very rare here.
Prevention is the better solution to this problem and effective treatments kill any existing ticks as well as warding off newcomers. Frontline, which is available from the vet and most pet shops, is the most successful product available here. It comes in a spray and a small vial called "Spot-on", which is applied to the skin on the back of the animal's neck. It is important to part the fur carefully and ensure that as much of the liquid as possible comes into contact with skin rather than fur. If the animal is infested rather than carrying just a few of the little darlings, it's advisable to treat them topically with the spray to guarantee instant death. They can then be gently removed with tweezers. Frontline also protects against fleas, whereas flea collars and insecticidal shampoos offer little discouragement to ticks.
Last month I promised to research the availability of H5N1 vaccine for cats but have discovered that, as yet, there is no such thing available. Fortunately, there are no signs of the disease (avian flu) on Paros, so those of us with cats who are fond of hunting have little to fear so far.
Before I close, a quick reminder that local elections are due in October and that it is easy for EU ex-pats to register to vote. Animal lovers with voting power can become a powerful lobby at the town hall and apply pressure for more help in keeping our stray populations healthy and at sustainable levels. A Bachean feline mating season has resulted in many pregnancies and the need for more sterilization sooner rather than later. When you register, send your contact details to P.A.W.S. so we can inform all the electoral candidates how many of us there are.