Tick-borne infectious diseases in Australia

Stephen R Graves and John Stenos
Med J Aust 2017; 206 (7): . || doi: 10.5694/mja17.00090
Published online: 17 April 2017


  • Tick bites in Australia can lead to a variety of illnesses in patients. These include infection, allergies, paralysis, autoimmune disease, post-infection fatigue and Australian multisystem disorder.
  • Rickettsial (Rickettsia spp.) infections (Queensland tick typhus, Flinders Island spotted fever and Australian spotted fever) and Q fever (Coxiella burnetii) are the only systemic bacterial infections that are known to be transmitted by tick bites in Australia.
  • Three species of local ticks transmit bacterial infection following a tick bite:
    • the paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus) is endemic on the east coast of Australia and causes Queensland tick typhus due to R. australis and Q fever due to C. burnetii;
    • the ornate kangaroo tick (Amblyomma triguttatum) occurs throughout much of northern, central and western Australia and causes Q fever; and
    • the southern reptile tick (Bothriocroton hydrosauri) is found mainly in south-eastern Australia and causes Flinders Island spotted fever due to R. honei.
  • Much about Australian ticks and the medical outcomes following tick bites remains unknown. Further research is required to increase understanding of these areas.

  • Stephen R Graves
  • John Stenos

  • Australian Rickettsial Reference Laboratory, Geelong, VIC



We thank Stephen Baker and Gemma Vincent for reviewing our manuscript.

Competing interests:

We are Directors of the Australian Rickettsial Reference Laboratory, a World Health Organization collaborating centre for reference and research on rickettsioses, which is a not-for-profit diagnostic and research microbiology laboratory based at University Hospital Geelong, Victoria.


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