Tick Paralysis

By Katie Rose Clarke
Junior Category (Grades 7-8)
Study | Biology

This project is about a disease I experienced in grade 2. The disease is very rare and is called tick paralysis.

Tick paralysis is caused by a female engorged gravid (egg bearing) tick. This disease is the only one known (diseases given by ticks, that is) that is caused not by an illness the tick has, but of neurotoxins produced in the tick’s salivary gland. The neurotoxins travel through the bloodstream killing all the motor neurons. I chose 4 questions to help me answer my overall question: how do neurotoxins in ticks make paralysis.

  1. What is Tick Paralysis?
  2. What is a neurotoxin?
  3. Do ticks use neurotoxins to their advantage?
  4. How is neurotoxin formed?

I asked these questions to get a general understanding of what makes and causes the paralysis. First understanding what the disease is, is making sure you know what you’re dealing with. Second, knowing who the problem is. Third, knowing why this is happening. Fourth, comprehending how the problem started. And last of all where, why, how, when, and what is causing the paralysis. My answer is simple, the neurotoxins travel through the bloodstream. Then they go to the feet and legs and start to destroy the motor neurons there. They travel upwards, until the lungs stop working. Unless the whole tick is removed before the neurotoxins paralyse the lungs, the victim will not make another night.

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