How infected are ticks?


How infected are ticks?
Detection of selected pathogens in ticks collected from cats and dogs in the Wrocław Agglomeration, South-West Poland
Published: 21 June 2016
Tick-borne infections are no longer confined to rural areas, they are documented with increasing frequency in urban settlements across the world. They are known to cause diseases in humans as well as in their companion animals.
During a period of 2 years, from January 2013 until December 2014, ticks were collected from dogs and cats in 18 veterinary clinics in the Wrocław Agglomeration, Poland. In total, 1455 ticks were found on 931 pets: 760 domestic dogs and 171 cats. For molecular examinations 127 I. ricinus ticks (115 females and 12 males) were randomly selected, all collected I. hexagonus (n = 137, 32 females, 98 nymphs, 7 larvae) and all collected D. reticulatus (n = 46, 31 females, 15 males) were taken. Ixodes ricinus and I. hexagonus ticks were tested for Rickettsia spp., Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis and Babesia spp., while D. reticulatus ticks were investigated for Rickettsia spp. and Babesia spp. only.
In total, 65.4 % I. ricinus ticks were infected with at least one pathogen. Over 50 % of I. ricinus were positive for Rickettsia spp. (R. helvetica and R. monacensis). The infection level with A. phagocytophilum was 21.3 %. DNA of Cand. N. mikurensis was detected in 8.1 % I. ricinus ticks. Interestingly only female ticks were infected. The prevalence of Babesia spp. was confirmed in 9.0 % of I. ricinus involving the species B. microti and B. venatorum. A total of nineteen double, one triple and two quadruple infections were found in I. ricinus ticks only. Almost 11 % of I. hexagonus ticks were positive for at least one of the tested pathogens. Rickettsia spp. infection was found in 2.2 %, while A. phagocytophilum was detected in 8.1 % of I. hexagonus ticks. Only one nymph was positive for Cand. N. mikurensis and none of I. hexagonus ticks harbored a Babesia spp. Over 60 % of D. reticulatus ticks were positive for rickettsial DNA, exclusively belonging to the species R. raoultii.
The high tick infestation rates and the prevalence of pathogens found in these ticks demonstrate a serious level of encounter to tick-borne diseases in urban dogs in the Wroclaw area, and provide evidence that dogs and cats themselves may substantially contribute to the circulation of the ticks and pathogens in the urban area.

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<p><i>Parasites & Vectors</i> publishes articles on the biology of parasites, parasitic diseases, intermediate hosts, vectors and vector-borne pathogens.</p>